Overnight Finance: Congress barrels toward another shutdown crisis | Canada worries Trump will withdraw from NAFTA | Blue-state Republicans push tax law changes | Chamber CEO calls out Bannon, Warren

Overnight Finance: Congress barrels toward another shutdown crisis | Canada worries Trump will withdraw from NAFTA | Blue-state Republicans push tax law changes | Chamber CEO calls out Bannon, Warren
© Greg Nash

Congress barrels toward another shutdown crisis: Lawmakers are scrambling to avoid a government shutdown as they barrel toward another funding deadline without a clear path forward.

GOP leadership is remaining tightlipped about their plan, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump has talked to associates about forming new political party: report McConnell, Schumer fail to cut power-sharing deal amid filibuster snag McConnell keeps GOP guessing on Trump impeachment MORE (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRevising the pardon power — let the Speaker and Congress have voices Paul Ryan will attend Biden's inauguration COVID-19 relief bill: A promising first act for immigration reform MORE (R-Wis.) declining to outline their next steps before a Jan. 19 deadline.

They are expected to offer a short-term stopgap measure given the fast-approaching deadline and a failure to lock down a deal on raising spending ceilings for defense and non-defense.

"I think if we are able to reach an agreement, it will still take a little bit of time to prepare the omnibus," McConnell told reporters this week during a leadership press conference, in a sign that a stopgap could be coming.


"But I'm not ready to make an announcement yet about the way forward."

If the GOP does move to a short-term measure, Democrats are tightlipped about whether they'll go along with the plan.

Republicans are accusing Democrats of holding the government "hostage" over demands to protect immigrants known as "Dreamers" who fear the end of an Obama-era program could risk their deportation beginning in March.

Jordain Carney has more on the state of play: http://bit.ly/2CYVQ7O


Blue-state Republicans push tax law changes: Some blue-state Republicans are pushing for tax changes to help their constituents as Democrats seek to target the suburbs in the midterm elections.

Nearly all of the GOP lawmakers who voted against the sweeping tax-cut bill in December did so because of a cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction that would be particularly damaging in high-tax areas such as New York, New Jersey and California. Now that the bill is law, some of those lawmakers are offering legislation to prevent their constituents from seeing tax hikes.

Rep. Leonard LanceLeonard LanceThomas Kean wins GOP primary to take on Rep. Tom Malinowski Gun debate to shape 2020 races GOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs MORE (R-N.J.), a top target in November, is planning to offer legislation that would allow everyone who prepaid their 2018 property taxes to deduct them on their 2017 returns.

Lance and others also say they still want to see the full SALT deduction restored.

And a number of blue-state Republicans, including those who voted for the tax bill, are calling for Democratic state officials to lower taxes. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda reports: http://bit.ly/2FnCg2J.


Canada worried Trump will withdraw from NAFTA: Concern is growing among Canadian officials that President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports MORE will soon decide to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Canadian government officials are worried that Trump is planning to finally follow through on his repeated threats to leave NAFTA and will make a move later this month ahead of the start of the sixth round of negotiations in Montreal, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

But a Toronto Star report said that while Canada is "actively preparing" for a possible withdrawal, officials aren't "convinced" that Trump will abandon the agreement. 

Withdrawal from the three-nation deal would take six months. 

Trump has said many times he would pull the nation out of the 24-year-old deal if he couldn't see a way to get more benefits for the United States.

Last fall, U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerBob LighthizerWhiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 MORE tried to calm concerns about a withdrawal, saying the Trump administration had every intention of completing the negotiation of an updated NAFTA with Mexico and Canada.

After Wednesday's report, the Canadian dollar and stocks fell. The Mexican peso also dropped in value. Here's more from The Hill's Vicki Needham: http://bit.ly/2FpiAeI.


Canadian officials later tried to tamp down those concerns. A Canadian government official pushed back against the Reuters report, calling it "inaccurate" that the Government of Canada is "convinced" the U.S will soon pull out of NAFTA.

"Progress on NAFTA was made during previous rounds and the December intersessional and we expect more progress to be made in January," the official said.

Vicki has more here on the push back: http://bit.ly/2CZoMwt


Chamber's Donohue says withdrawal from NAFTA would be 'grave mistake' U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue on Wednesday touted the importance of global trade for the nation's growing economy, arguing that abandoning trade deals would ultimately undermine the expansion.

A withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by the Trump administration would be a "grave mistake," Donohue said during his annual State of American Business speech in Washington.

"The American economy has taken several big steps forward with regulatory relief and tax reform, and the administration deserves lots of credit," Donohue said. "But a wrong move on NAFTA would send us five steps back.

"The bottom line is growth will be weakened, not strengthened or sustained, if we pull back from trade," he added. http://bit.ly/2Flqk1n.


Watchdog calls for more IRS funding as agency implements tax law: The IRS needs more funding as it implements the Republicans' new tax law, according to the agency's in-house watchdog.

"The IRS will have a lot of issues to work through, and taxpayers will have a lot of questions," National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said in a news release Wednesday. "But with more funding, strong leadership, and a closer working relationship with Congress, I am convinced the IRS can do the job well."

Olson submitted her annual report to Congress on Wednesday, which highlights the most serious problems facing taxpayers. She also made legislative recommendations for how to strengthen taxpayer rights and improve tax administration, which come as key House Republicans say they want to tackle IRS reform this year.

The IRS saw its budget cut in the early part of the decade, and Republicans have criticized the agency in the wake of 2013 revelations that it subjected conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status to extra scrutiny.

In a preliminary estimate, the IRS predicted that it would need an additional $495 million in fiscal 2018 and 2019 to implement the tax law. The agency found 131 filing-season systems that will be affected by the new law.

Olson also said the agency can also make some changes to help taxpayers within its current budget. http://bit.ly/2Fny82G.


Happy Wednesday 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.


Senate Dem bill would punish credit reporting agencies for breaches: Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden pick for Pentagon cruises through confirmation hearing Senate Democrats call on Biden to immediately invoke Defense Production Act Biden consumer bureau pick could take over agency on Inauguration Day MORE (D-Mass.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSocial media posts, cellphone data aid law enforcement investigations into riots 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Confirmation hearing for Biden's DNI pick postponed MORE (D-Va.) have introduced legislation that would allow regulators to punish credit reporting agencies in the wake of the massive Equifax data hack.

The Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act would provide the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with more direct supervisory authority over data security at the agencies, as well as impose penalties on credit reporters and provide for consumers to be compensated.

"We are introducing a bill today to say that when a credit reporting agency lets your data be stolen, that there are substantial automatic penalties that go into place, and there's money that automatically goes back to the people whose data has been stolen," Warren told CNN's Alisyn Camerota on "New Day." 

Equifax announced in September hackers had taken advantage of a software flaw and were able to access the personal data of over 144 million customers. The personal data included Social Security numbers, phone numbers and addresses. http://bit.ly/2FnpjGb.


Chamber CEO calls out Bannon, Warren in pledge to rebuild the center in Congress: U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue on Wednesday called out both former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon and liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), saying Congress needs lawmakers who are interested in governing.

"If we're only sending ideological purists and strict partisans to Washington, we're stopping progress before it can even start," Donohue said in his annual "State of American Business" speech. "So we're going to fight back against the extremes in both parties -- the Steve Bannons and the Elizabeth Warrens of the world, who do not represent the best interests of this country."

Bannon, who has fallen out of favor with President Trump following comments he made in a new book, has endorsed primary candidates who are challenging more mainstream Republicans. Warren, meanwhile, is known as one of the most liberal members of the Senate and has taken a tough stance on the financial sector.

Later on Wednesday, Warren took to Twitter to respond to Donohue, saying that she knows she's doing her job when she's criticized by the Chamber. http://bit.ly/2FnDjzH.


New chairmen named for health, tax subcommittees: Three of the House Ways and Means Committee's six subcommittees will have new chairmen for 2018, Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyGrowing number of lawmakers test positive for COVID-19 after Capitol siege Overnight Health Care: US sets record for daily COVID-19 deaths with over 3,800 | Hospitals say vaccinations should be moving faster | Brazilian health officials say Chinese COVID vaccine 78 percent effective The Hill's Morning Report - A dark day as Trump embraces 'special' rioters MORE (R-Texas) announced Wednesday.

The health, tax and oversight subcommittees will all have new leadership this year, in light of Rep. Pat TiberiPatrick (Pat) Joseph TiberiOhio New Members 2019 Many authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress GOP Rep. Balderson holds onto seat in Ohio MORE's (R-Ohio) departure from Congress to lead the Ohio Business Roundtable. Tiberi had been chairman of the health panel.

Rep. Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamPostcards become unlikely tool in effort to oust Trump Bottom line Lobbying world MORE (R-Ill.), will be the new health subcommittee chairman. He had previously led the tax-policy subcommittee as Republicans worked last year to pass their tax-cut bill.

Roskam is also being targeted by Democrats in the midterm elections, with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report calling his seat a toss-up.

"I'm honored to be named Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health at this critical time for thoughtful health policy," Roskam said. "Our healthcare system has been broken for many years, and it's important that we get this right." http://bit.ly/2FlrCJL.


Poll: Voters still say Obama more responsible for economy than Trump: A new poll finds more U.S. voters still say former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaHoward University's marching band to escort Harris at inauguration Lloyd Austin is the right nominee for defense secretary and the right leader for this moment Trump seeks to box-in Biden with executive actions MORE is responsible for the current state of the U.S. economy than President Trump.

The Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday finds that 49 percent of Americans say Obama is more responsible for the current U.S. economy compared to 40 percent who say Trump is responsible.

The number of voters crediting Obama for the state of the economy has grown in the past two months. In Quinnipiac's Nov. 22 poll, 43 percent of Americans credited Obama, and in a December poll 45 percent of voters credited the former president.

The percentage of those crediting Trump over Obama rose steadily through most of the year, topping 43 percent in December before ticking back down to 40 percent this month.

The January poll also finds that 66 percent of U.S. voters say the economy is "excellent" or "good," the most positive rating for the economy in the poll since 2001. http://bit.ly/2Fs5Y6U.


Trump companies sold $35 million in real estate in 2017: President Trump's companies sold more than $35 million in real estate last year to a variety of secretive buyers, USA Today reported Wednesday.

The Trump Organization sold 41 luxury condo units in Las Vegas last year, including one for $1.6 million, as well as properties in other parts of the country, the news outlet reported

A neurosurgeon, real estate investors and an attorney were among those who purchased properties using their limited liability companies, which allowed them to obscure their identities during the transaction, USA Today found.

The use of shell companies to purchase Trump properties has dramatically increased since Trump entered the political realm.

USA Today found in the two years prior to Trump receiving the GOP presidential nomination, only 4 percent of buyers used the tactic when purchasing Trump properties. In the year following his nomination, 70 percent of buyers used the tactic, according to the newspaper. http://bit.ly/2Fooi0r.


More than 100 CEOs urge Congress to protect Dreamers: More than a hundred prominent chief executives are urging Congress to pass legislation to protect young undocumented immigrants, calling the looming expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program a "crisis."

In a letter to House and Senate leaders sent on Wednesday, the group called on lawmakers to pass a bill supporting the so-called "Dreamers."

"We write to urge Congress to act immediately and pass a permanent bipartisan legislative solution to enable Dreamers who are currently living, working, and contributing to our communities to continue doing so," the letter reads. "The imminent termination of the DACA program is creating an impending crisis for workforces across the country."

The letter was signed by more than a hundred major executives, including Facebook's Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFacebook has no current plan to end the Trump suspension Ocasio-Cortez: Facebook, Zuckerberg 'bear partial responsibility' for insurrection 'Nationalize' Facebook and Twitter as public goods MORE, Tim Cook of Apple, Microsoft president Brad Smith, Amazon's Brad Smith and Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam.

The group urged lawmakers to pass legislation by a week from Friday, the deadline for Congress to agree to new government funding to avert a shutdown. DACA is set to expire on March 5, but the business leaders insisted that the government needs time to implement a new program before that deadline. http://bit.ly/2FnsP3l.