Overnight Finance: Trump floats entering Pacific trade pact he once called 'a disaster' | Senators worry over Mulvaney's power at consumer bureau | Battle for CFPB control heads to appeals court | House fails to pass balanced budget amendment

Overnight Finance: Trump floats entering Pacific trade pact he once called 'a disaster' | Senators worry over Mulvaney's power at consumer bureau | Battle for CFPB control heads to appeals court | House fails to pass balanced budget amendment
© Greg Nash

Happy Thursday and welcome back to Overnight Finance, the first-class newsletter at an economy-class price. 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 TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE once called the Trans-Pacific Partnership a "disaster" backed by "special interests who want to rape our country."

Now, the president is considering re-entering the trade pact to open up markets for U.S. farmers set to take heavy losses amid a tariff battle with China.

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Trump on Thursday instructed top administration officials to explore re-entering the TPP -- a trade pact he pulled the U.S. out of last year. Speaking after a trade meeting with Trump, Republican senators said the president told White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow and U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerMcConnell urges GOP senators to call Trump about tariffs Companies brace for trade war MORE to look into joining the deal, which 11 other Pacific Rim nations signed in March. 

"The president multiple times reaffirmed in general to all of us and looked right at Larry Kudlow and said, 'Larry, go get it done,'" Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseMcConnell tamps down any talk of Kavanaugh withdrawal Senate approves 4B spending bill Grassley agrees to second Kavanaugh hearing after GOP members revolt MORE (R-Neb.), a vocal proponent of free trade, told reporters at the White House.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said the president would only re-enter TPP if the deal was made "substantially" better.

"He has asked Amb. Lighthizer and Director Kudlow to take another look at whether or not a better deal could be negotiated," she said in a statement.

The Hill's Jordan Fabian and Vicki Needham break down what happened today. 

Why it matters: Trump's push is in its early stages and the president is known for his ideological flexibility and off the cuff policy decisions. If the U.S. were to reenter the TPP, it would be a remarkable about-face for Trump, who made his oppositions to the deal a focal point of his 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump's instructions come at a time when he is engaged in a roiling trade dispute with China and is pushing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, who are also parties to the TPP.

Trump earlier this year opened the door to reentering the trade deal if the terms were more favorable for the United States.

"I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal," Trump told CNBC during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

 

LEADING THE DAY

Senators gripe over Mulvaney's power at consumer bureau: Members of a Senate panel and White House budget director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Warren suggests Mulvaney broke law by speaking to GOP donors Mulvaney plans to move some consumer bureau staff to new Atlanta office MORE agreed on just one thing Thursday: No one is happy with his power as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

While Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee praised Mulvaney for using his expansive, unchecked authority to rein in an agency they've loathed for half a decade, they expressed deep concerns about what that power could yield under another official.

Several questioned whether the CFPB should even exist, while others called for strict checks and fundamental changes to the agency's structure.

Democrats who had long defended the CFPB portrayed Mulvaney as a usurper who has chained up a once powerful protector of consumers.

"He's hoping that if he does a bad enough job running the CFPB, Congress will take away the CFPB's ability to protect consumers," said Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment MORE (Ohio), the Banking panel's ranking Democrat. "Congress should not fall for it."

Mulvaney, who also appeared before the House on Wednesday, urged lawmakers to take control over the CFPB's funding, install an independent inspector general and disperse the director's power to regulate and litigate among a broader array of bureau leaders.

Even so, Mulvaney made it clear that he saw no reason for the CFPB to exist at all.

"You could protect consumers without me being here,"  Mulvaney said. Here's more from me on his showdown with the Senate.

 

Reactions:

 

Mulvaney vs. Warren: After months of sniping at each other through heated letters and public barbs, Mulvaney and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls On The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Warren suggests Mulvaney broke law by speaking to GOP donors MORE (D-Mass.) had their first face-to-face battle.

Warren accused Mulvaney of derailing the agency out of politically motivated spite, insisting he has been "hurting real people to score cheap political points."

"You've taken obvious joy in talking about how the agency would help banks much more than consumers, and how upset that would make me," Warren said. "But this isn't about me."

 

The backstory: Warren is considered the architect of the CFPB, laying the foundation for the bureau as an adviser to then-President Obama in 2011. She has become one of the CFPB's most vocal defenders since her 2012 election to the Senate.

Mulvaney has said the previous CFPB regime waged an ideological crusade against lenders spurred by Warren's constant criticism of banks.

"I don't want us to be Elizabeth Warren's baby," Mulvaney said Monday at a conference of community bankers.

He also singled out a small minority of CFPB staffers aligned with "the Elizabeth Warren view of the world that lending money for profit is evil" that he alleges has undermined the bureau with misleading leaks to reporters.

 

Battle for control of CFPB heads to appeals court: The fight over who should lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) hit the nation's second most powerful court on Thursday.

CFPB Deputy Director Leandra English urged a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to rule that she is the rightful leader of the bureau, not the man that President Trump put in place, budget director Mick Mulvaney.

The court grappled with the language of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and how it squares with the president's authority under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) to temporarily fill vacancies. The Hill's Lydia Wheeler was there to break it all down for us. 

If you want to know more about how we got here, these stories are a good start:

 

Balanced budget amendment fails: A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution went down to defeat in the House on Thursday after conservatives failed to garner the supermajority needed to send it to the Senate.

The vote was 233-184, short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage.

While fiscal hawks in Congress backed the proposal-- which would require Congress not to spend more than it brings in -- Democrats argued the vote was a gimmick to help Republicans save face amid an explosion in federal deficits.

The bill was brought to the floor under an agreement made between Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls On The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Nancy Pelosi: Will she remain the ‘Face of the Franchise’? MORE (R-Wis.) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Conservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Trump's Puerto Rico tweets spark backlash MORE (R-N.C.) in October. The Speaker agreed on a vote in exchange for conservative support to overcome a procedural hurdle paving the way for the party's signature tax reform. The Hill's Juliegrace Brufke and Niv Elis explain here.

 

Tax rules will be subject to more OMB review: Certain tax rules will be subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under a memo released Thursday by OMB and the Treasury Department.

The memo follows a debate over whether OMB should have more oversight of tax rules, as Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) work to implement the new tax-cut law.

Under a 1983 document, IRS rules were largely exempted from review by OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).

Conservative groups and some GOP lawmakers had been pushing for more OMB oversight and for tax rules to undergo a cost-benefit analysis, arguing that doing so would improve the quality of the tax rules and make IRS rules subject to the same process as those from other agencies.

But other lawmakers, as well as some tax experts and members of the business community, had expressed concerns that more OMB oversight of IRS rules would slow down much-sought guidance by the agency on the new tax law. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda tells us what this means for the new tax code.

 

MARKET CHECK: Stocks had a strong day, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising 1.2 percent with a 293-point gain. The Nasdaq rose 1 percent, while S&P 500 index increased by 0.82 percent.

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • China says it 'will not hesitate to fight back' against proposed US tariffs.
  • More than 100 business groups on Thursday sent a letter to Congress calling on lawmakers to ensure that U.S. consumers don't pay the price for a crackdown on China's unfair trading practices.
  • The attorney general of West Virginia on Thursday filed suit against Equifax, accusing the credit reporting agency of failing to secure its systems, resulting in the data breach that affected roughly 148 million people in the United States.
  • Bank earnings are coming, and they're going to be huge, according to CNBC.

 

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. is struggling in an otherwise thriving home-goods retail sector with shares of the company plummeting 19.5 percent in Thursday trading. (Marketwatch)