Overnight Finance: Trump signs tariffs, defying GOP | Republicans look to narrow tariffs | Vote on Dodd-Frank rollback pushed to next week | Trump says Cohn could return to WH

Overnight Finance: Trump signs tariffs, defying GOP | Republicans look to narrow tariffs | Vote on Dodd-Frank rollback pushed to next week | Trump says Cohn could return to WH
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Happy Thursday and welcome back to Overnight Finance, where we're digging in for a busy start to next week. 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.


THE BIG DEAL: President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE on Thursday officially announced steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, defying his own party and delivering on a campaign promise to fight what he sees as unfair practices by U.S. trading partners.

Trump signed paperwork enacting tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum during a hastily arranged event at the White House.


"Today, I am defending America's national security by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum," Trump said in the Roosevelt Room, flanked by steel and aluminum workers. 

Trump called the struggles of domestic steel and aluminum industry a "travesty."

"This has been an assault on our country," he said. 

The president temporarily exempted Canada and Mexico from the tariffs, arguing his administration would continue talks with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners. Trump has separately discussed withdrawing the United States from NAFTA.

The Hill's Jordan Fabian and Vicki Needham tell us everything you need to know about the announcement.


Trump is facing a revolt in the GOP over his plan. Republicans in Congress are trying to get the president limit the potential economic damage by excluding U.S. allies from the tariffs or by targeting the trade action toward China.

Trump said he would flexible with countries that offer better trading terms to the U.S.

"I'll have a right to go up or down depending on the country and I'll have a right to drop out countries or add countries. I just want fairness, because we have not been treated fairly by other countries," he said.



  • "Tariffs won't start a trade war, there's 435 of them in place today to fight trade cheaters. People may not like how Pres Trump rolled these out, but I applaud him for trying." -- AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a tweet.
  • "America's steel and aluminium workers and companies will stabilize after years of unfair competition, regain market share and even hire more workers." -- Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.


What comes next: Republicans opposed to the tariffs will spent the foreseeable future pushing Trump to relent, exploring options to undo or narrow the taxes, and manage the impact they could have on the U.S. economy. U.S. trading partners will begin asking for exemptions to the tariffs, and those who don't get a break will likely retaliate with taxes on U.S imports.

The Hill's Jordain Carney has more on what GOP leaders may do next.


So what? Republicans are seriously on edge about what Trump's tariffs, the departure of Gary CohnGary David CohnFormer national economic council director: I agree with 50 percent of House Democrats' HEROES Act Sunday shows preview: Congress spars over next round of coronavirus relief; GOP seeks offensive after news of Flynn 'unmasking' The Memo: Speculation grows about Fauci's future MORE and the ascendance of protectionist trade advisers within the White House. All of that has left lawmakers worried about what could come next and whether Trump might follow through on threats to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico or limit car imports from Europe. The Hill's Alexander Bolton tells us more about the GOP's angst.



Dodd-Frank rollback delayed: The Senate has pushed a final vote on legislation weakening the Dodd-Frank financial reform law until next week after failing to reach a deal on amendment votes.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Coronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority Coronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal MORE (R-Ky.) said Thursday that Republicans and Democrats were unable to agree on which of the more than 100 amendments to the bill would get votes. The Senate will vote on a series of amendments "early next week," the spokesman said.

The underlying measure is expected to pass with bipartisan support despite opposition from liberal Democrats, and the battle over amendments isn't likely to change the final outcome. I explain here what's holding everything up, and when we could see some action.


Hensarling: Not impressed: The House pointman on all things banking wants influence over the Senate bill. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingLawmakers battle over future of Ex-Im Bank House passes Ex-Im Bank reboot bill opposed by White House, McConnell Has Congress lost the ability or the will to pass a unanimous bipartisan small business bill? MORE (R-Texas) said the substitute amendment, which contains eight bills passed by his panel, does not reflect the will of the House.

Hensarling cited more than two-dozen bills from the Financial Services Committee that passed with bipartisan support that he wants added to the Senate package.

"We were glad to see eight of our bipartisan House-passed bills are now included," added Sarah Flaim, a spokeswoman for Hensarling.

"However, there are many more strongly bipartisan bills ... that were curiously left out. Chairman Hensarling remains committed to ensuring that the House's voice is heard."

So what? Hensarling's opinion of the bill could influence whether or not it comes the House floor. Speaker Ryan is notoriously deferential to his committee chairmen, and many House Republicans share Hensarling's concerns with the bill.

But the pressure is building to pass Dodd-Frank rollback while the stars are aligned, and it's possible that House leadership brings the bill forward over his objections.

It wouldn't be the first time that Hensarling was overruled by his own party. He was forced to remove a repeal of the Dodd-Frank fee on credit and debit card swipes from his Dodd-Frank rewrite last year, and was steamrolled by Republicans who wanted to preserve the Export-Import Bank in 2015.


Tunnel vision: The Trump administration has threatened to veto a massive government funding package if it includes money for a rail and tunnel project in the Northeast, sources told The Hill.

The White House has made clear that is doesn't support the multibillion-dollar Gateway Project, which has been a top priority for New York and New Jersey-area lawmakers like Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi, Schumer slam Trump executive orders, call for GOP to come back to negotiating table Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief Postal Service says it lost .2 billion over three-month period MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Appropriations Chairman Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenBottom line Republican lobbying firms riding high despite uncertainty of 2020 race Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm MORE (R-N.J.). 

"The administration has been very clear that we don't think this is an efficient use of taxpayer dollars," a senior administration official said in a statement. "Any official position on the legislation would be issued through a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP)."

The Hill's Melanie Zanona and Mallory Shelbourne take us inside the showdown.


Pelosi says gun control, DACA shouldn't be in funding deal: House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Schumer slam Trump executive orders, call for GOP to come back to negotiating table Trump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday that there's no need to tackle immigration or gun reform as part of a sweeping spending package poised for a vote as early as next week.

"None of these bills has to be part of the omnibus," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. She's urging the Republicans to bring those issues to the floor as separate, stand-alone bills -- a strategy GOP leaders have repeatedly refused. The Hill's Mike Lillis explains why.


MARKET CHECK: Resilient. Despite Trump's signing of tariffs that shook Wall Street with fears of an impending trade war, all three major U.S. stock indexes closed with modest gains Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial, Nasdaq, and Standard & Poor's 500 indexes finished with roughly 0.4 percent gains each.



  • Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that Congress will tackle an infrastructure overhaul in "five or six bills" this year, dealing a blow to President Trump's push for a $1.5 trillion rebuilding package.
  • Eleven Pacific Rim nations gathered in Chile on Thursday to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive free-trade agreement that the United States abandoned more than a year ago.
  • The tax law President Trump signed in December costs about $1.2 trillion over 10 years after accounting for its economic effects, two Harvard University economists with different opinions of the law estimated in a new paper.
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday sought to clarify her past comments calling bonuses from the GOP tax plan "crumbs," saying "we are thankful whenever workers get bonuses."
  • Trump's proposed 25 percent tariff on steel imports could cost the U.S. auto industry 45,000 jobs, equivalent to almost a third of the entire steel industry's workforce, according to a study by the Council on Foreign Relations. 



  • Trump said Thursday he still likes departing top economic adviser Gary Cohn and suggested he could return to the administration in a different role.