Overnight Finance

Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism

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Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal: President Trump and congressional negotiators on Tuesday outlined the parameters of a potential immigration deal during a lengthy bipartisan meeting at the White House, a major step toward avoiding a government shutdown.

The president and lawmakers who are leading immigration talks on Capitol Hill agreed that an agreement should include four key components.

It should protect an estimated 700,000 to 800,000 immigrants known as “Dreamers” from deportation, beef up security along the U.S.-Mexico border, change the weighting given to family relationships when granting legal status and reform the diversity visa lottery program.


White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later hailed the meeting as “successful.”

Trump told Republican and Democratic negotiators that he would rely on them to hammer out the details and indicated that he would sign into law whatever they send to his desk.

“What I approve is going to be very much reliant on what the people in this room come to me with. I have great confidence in the people,” he told the two dozen lawmakers arrayed around a table with him in the Cabinet Room.

Trump expressed sympathy to immigrants who came to the country illegally at a young age and now face deportation, urging negotiators to pass “a bill of love.”

But many thorny details remain unresolved, and it appears Congress won’t have enough time to work through them before government funding expires on Jan. 19.

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton and Jordain Carney have the details: http://bit.ly/2mcX5oT


Schumer: Trump will be blamed for shutdown over wall: Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned President Trump on Tuesday that he will be blamed if the government shuts down because of a fight over the border wall. 

“If the president goes down that path and insists on the wall or shut down the government, which he said back in September, make no mistake about it, a government shutdown will fall entirely, entirely on his shoulders,” he said from the Senate floor: http://bit.ly/2CMmRXY.


Background… How President Trump’s core campaign promise to build a wall on the Mexican border became one of the biggest sticking points in the complicated negotiations to prevent a government shutdown. http://bit.ly/2CIIqZz.


Another short-term spending bill? House appropriators returning to Washington earlier this week predicted another short-term spending bill will be needed to avoid a government shutdown next week amid the contentious fight over immigration: http://bit.ly/2CL0TEW.


Happy Tuesday and welcome back to Overnight Finance. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

See something I missed? Let me know at slane@thehill.com or tweet me @SylvanLane. And if you like your newsletter, you can subscribe to it here: http://bit.ly/1NxxW2N.


On tap tomorrow:

House Foreign Affairs Committee: Hearing on “Sanctions and Financial Pressure: Major National Security Tools,” 10 a.m. http://bit.ly/2CvcFTO.

House Financial Services Committee: Hearing on “A Further Examination of Federal Reserve Reform Proposals,” 2 p.m. http://bit.ly/2CwBjTM.


Trump tax law poised to create windfall for states: When President Trump signed a massive tax overhaul late last month, congressional Republicans celebrated a job accomplished. But the work is just starting for state legislators, who are likely to see hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue. 

Under the new law, budget analysts say taxpayers who receive a break on their federal forms are actually likely to spend more on their state taxes, unless state legislators act. And that’s setting off contentious fights between those who want to use the money to boost state budgets and those who want to return money to the taxpayers.

“Now we get to do tax reform in all 50 states,” said Nicole Kaeding, an economist at the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.

Most states conform parts of their tax codes — like definitions set by the IRS or deductions and tax credits for mortgages and children — to the federal code. But states set their own tax rates independently. The federal tax overhaul eliminates some deductions, broadening the tax base at both the state and federal levels. The Hill’s Reid Wilson explains: http://bit.ly/2CMn5i5.


Trump calls on Congress to bring back earmarks: President Trump said Tuesday that Congress should consider bringing back earmarks to improve bipartisanship and pass more legislation. 

“Maybe we should think about it,” Trump told a group of roughly two-dozen lawmakers at the White House. “Maybe all of you should think about going back to a form of earmarks. You should do it.”

Former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) banned earmarks, which have been derided as “pork-barrel spending,” after Republicans retook the House in 2010.

But House Republicans are debating whether to bring back earmarks, even as some members blast them as a symbol of the so-called swamp in Washington, D.C., that Trump campaigned against.

Trump’s remarks Tuesday appeared to give that push a boost. 

“We have to put better controls because it got a little out of hand, but that brings people together,” the president said.

Trump said the “levels of hatred” among Republicans and Democrats are “out of control” and that earmarks could help solve it: http://bit.ly/2CM8iUl.


More on earmarks… Even some conservatives seem open to the idea: Momentum is building in Congress to revive the use of earmarks after President Trump endorsed the idea on Tuesday.

But don’t call them earmarks: lawmakers say they’re in favor of “congressionally directed spending.”

In a sign of the changing attitudes on Capitol Hill, conservatives are divided on whether to reverse the earmark ban in place since Republicans took over the House majority after the 2010 midterm elections.

Conservative leaders like House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) reject the idea, warning that allowing lawmakers to carve out spending for projects specifically designed to benefit their districts would undercut Trump’s “drain the swamp” message.

“I think that when you’re talking about draining the swamp, it’s very difficult in the same mouthful to suggest that we’re going to reinstitute earmarks,” Meadows said.

But even some Freedom Caucus members sound open to a return to earmarks ahead of House Rules Committee hearings next week on whether to revive the practice.

“I don’t know that I’m opposed to it,” Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a Freedom Caucus member, told The Hill. “We’re spending more money than ever and it’s still going out, but it doesn’t seem to come to my district.” The Hill’s Cristina Marcos and Scott Wong on the debate: http://bit.ly/2CMMPKW


Trump infrastructure plan may slip to next month: The release of President Trump’s long-awaited infrastructure package may slip to next month, according to a Democratic aide.

The White House had promised to unveil “detailed legislative principles” on Trump’s rebuilding initiative in early January, after the issue took a back seat to other GOP priorities all last year. But White House officials told a bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday that the proposal could now be released after Trump’s inaugural State of the Union address on Jan. 30, according to the aide, though they assured lawmakers that a plan was forthcoming.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Tom Carper (Del.), the panel’s top Democrat, requested the meeting with Trump’s infrastructure team to learn more about the administration’s rebuilding proposal.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn both attended Tuesday afternoon’s confab on Capitol Hill. Melanie Zanona has more on where the plan stands: http://bit.ly/2AJmuff


Trump to attend Davos economic forum: President Trump plans to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, later this month, the White House announced Tuesday.

“The president welcomes opportunities to advance his America First agenda with world leaders,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

She added that Trump “looks forward to promoting his policies to strengthen American businesses, American industries, and American workers.”

The forum, which brings together powerful politicians and business leaders, is scheduled to run from Jan. 23 to 26.

Trump, a billionaire businessman who won the presidency by running as an economic populist, would be one of only two U.S. presidents to ever attend the forum.

U.S. presidents typically do not attend the gathering in the ritzy Swiss Alps resort town, an effort to avoid being seen as too cozy with some of the world’s wealthiest individuals: http://bit.ly/2CMbG1p.


Manufacturers press Senate to approve Ex-Im board members: Manufacturers are keeping pressure on Senate Republican leaders to get the Export-Import Bank running at full speed.

In a letter on Tuesday, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) to approve by the end of January four nominees to the Ex-Im board of directors. Confirming those nominees would enable the bank to make larger loans.

“Doing so will be beneficial to manufacturers of all sizes and types that rely on the tools that the Ex-Im Bank provides and will advance U.S. competitiveness in the global economy at a critical moment when overseas opportunities are increasing at a renewed pace,” wrote Jay Timmons, NAM’s president and CEO, in the letter. 

Last month, the Senate Banking Committee approved four nominees to the Ex-Im board: Kimberly Reed, Spencer Bachus, Judith Pryor and Claudia Slacik.

All four nominations have been held over by the Senate and can be considered on the floor: http://bit.ly/2CJgOmZ.


NY lawmakers offer bill to restore state and local tax deduction: A bipartisan pair of House members from New York introduced legislation this week to restore the full state and local tax (SALT) deduction, which is limited by the new tax law that President Trump signed last month.

Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Pete King (R-N.Y.) said on a call with reporters Tuesday that they are offering their bill in order to prevent many of their constituents from seeing their taxes go up. The new tax law caps the deduction at $10,000, which Lowey and King said is insufficient for many residents of their districts.

“This is so negative for our constituents,” said Lowey, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.

Opponents of the SALT deduction argue that the preference largely benefits wealthy taxpayers, but Lowey and King said that middle-class people in their districts, such as teachers and firefighters, will be hurt by the cap.

“These are average, hard-working people,” King said: http://bit.ly/2CMpn0F.


Dimon: I regret calling bitcoin a fraud: JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has walked back his criticism of bitcoin, saying its underlying technology could be useful for financial markets.

Dimon told Fox Business in an interview aired Tuesday that he regrets calling the cryptocurrency “a fraud,” but that he’s still “not interested that much in the subject at all.”

Dimon in September threatened to fire Chase employees that invested the bank’s money in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin prices were cruising upward at the time, months before cryptocurrency values skyrocketed.

Dimon’s bank has since explored bitcoin futures trading and a blockchain-based payments system.

“The blockchain is real,” Dimon said Tuesday, referring to the distributed ledger technology that underpins bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies: http://bit.ly/2CJP024


Budget watch: Head of nonprofit watchdog fights with both parties: Democrats and Republicans tend to agree that an exploding national debt is bad. But the debt bothers liberals more when the GOP pushes taxes cuts, and conservatives more when Democrats press for increased funding.

That’s where Maya MacGuineas intervenes.

MacGuineas, 49, is president of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), a fiscal watchdog that has become a go-to source of budgetary analysis in Washington. She says she has few qualms smacking down members of either political party when their budgetary claims enter the realm of fantasy.

“I am definitely beyond left and right — I am a huge political independent,” MacGuineas told The Hill in a recent interview.

She added: “We will always be criticized by both sides. This year, those on the right were probably very frustrated that we thought the tax bill was fiscally irresponsible. Next year, if we move into trying to fix the safety net programs or the big entitlement programs, the left will probably be very frustrated.” http://bit.ly/2CLPzrU.


Optimism in job market up sharply: More than half of Americans are optimistic about the prospects of finding quality jobs, according to a new Gallup survey. 

According to that survey, 56 percent of Americans viewed the job market positively in 2017 — up sharply from 42 percent in 2016. 

The 2017 number is the highest annual average since Gallup began tracking public perceptions of the job market in 2001. The number tracks closely with the unemployment rate, which fell in 2017 from an average of 4.9 percent to 4.4 percent.

A positive job market outlook rose sharply among Republicans at the beginning of 2017, around the time President Trump took office. Conversely, the percentage of Democrats who voiced optimism in the job market fell 10 percent — down to 45 percent — shortly after Trump office, though that number currently sits at 50 percent.

Still, certain groups — namely those who were out of work and trying to find a job, African-Americans and those earning less than $30,000 a year — were less likely than others to have a positive view of the job market, according to Gallup: http://bit.ly/2CMq35U.


Op-eds from The Hill’s Contributors: 

  • Republicans in Congress shouldn’t try to bring back earmarks



Tags Boehner Charles Schumer Donald Trump Elaine Chao Gary Cohn John Barrasso John Boehner John Cornyn Mark Meadows Mitch McConnell Nita Lowey Pete King Spencer Bachus Tom Carper

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