Overnight Finance: House chairman eases demands on Dodd-Frank rollback | White House economist dismisses trade war fears | Unemployment claims at 48-year low | State AGs want new hearing on Obama financial adviser rule

Overnight Finance: House chairman eases demands on Dodd-Frank rollback | White House economist dismisses trade war fears | Unemployment claims at 48-year low | State AGs want new hearing on Obama financial adviser rule
© Greg Nash

Happy Thursday and welcome back to Overnight Finance, where we're reeling from a mind-boggling day on Capitol Hill.  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: There could soon be a breakthrough on getting a Dodd-Frank rollback through the House and onto President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE's desk.

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) on Thursday said he could drop his demand to amend a bipartisan Senate bill to loosen strict financial rules if the upper chamber agrees to take up measures from his panel.

Hensarling said Thursday that he'd be willing to end his blockade of a Senate bill to rollback the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act if senators agree to consider legislation produced by his committee in a separate package.

His comments are a small step away from an unequivocal pledge he made last month to not take up the Senate's bill unless its sponsors agreed to include House bills that passed with almost unanimous support.

"I'm far more wedded to substance than form, so as I've told other people, I'm more than happy to attend multiple signing ceremonies," Hensarling said at an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Hensarling's comments showed a potential way to resolve a battle between the House and Senate over the best way to roll back Dodd-Frank. I explain how here.



What comes next: There is immense pressure on the House to pass the Senate bill as quickly as possible. House Republicans on the Financial Services panel say they realize that time is running out and that banks and credit unions are desperate to see the Senate bill become law.

Hensarling has a bit more leeway to push Senate Democrats to come to terms on a deal, and his minor concession today makes that easier.

A Financial Services panel Republican, granted anonymity to speak candidly about negotiations, told me that the plan "might be viable," but "I don't think you get that without pressing, pushing negotiating, cajoling, talking to each individual Democrat like Jeb's doing."

"I don't even think you get that outcome if you don't argue and press that we have some non-offensive things to add to [the Senate bill," said the Republican.



How low can unemployment claims go? First-time claims for unemployment benefits fell to a 48-year low last week as the labor market shows further signs of tightening after years of steady growth.

Claims plummeted to 209,000, a decrease of 24,000 in the week through April 21, from the previous week's 232,000, the lowest level since Dec. 6, 1969, the Labor Department reported on Thursday.

The four-week moving average, a better gauge of the labor market's health, fell by 2,250 claims to 229,250. The Hill's Vicki Needham breaks down the data for us here. 


Top White House economist dismisses trade war fears: The top White House economist on Thursday sought to tamp down fears of growing trade tensions between the U.S. and China and insisted that Trump administration officials are united behind the president's agenda.

Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters that the importance of fighting for more fair trade terms with China shouldn't be overshadowed by fears of economic harm triggered by retaliation.

"We need to move toward a world where trade barriers around the world come down, not just for us, but for our trading partners," Hassett told reporters at a Washington, D.C., breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.

"The objectives are sometimes lost as people think about what's the worst thing that could possibly happen."

Hassett's remarks come as Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Economy adds 4.8M jobs in June | Unemployment to average 6.1 percent through 2030: CBO | Mnuchin says no regrets on pushing to reopen Treasury approves 0 million loan to company being sued for overcharging Pentagon US no longer 'flattening the curve' of coronavirus pandemic, administration official says MORE and U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House MORE prepare for a trip to China to seek a way to ease trade tensions. I've got more on what Hassett said about the U.S push for fairer trade, and other economic issues, right here. 

States ask court to reconsider decision on Obama-era financial rule: California, New York and Oregon are pushing the New Orleans-based federal appeals court to reconsider its decision to strike down an Obama-era regulation that required retirement advisers to act in the best interest of their clients.  

The states' attorneys general filed a motion in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday morning asking the court for permission to defend the Labor Department rule in court and rehear with its full panel of judges the lawsuit brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 21 other business and financial groups. 

In a 2-1 ruling last month, the court said the rule bears the hallmarks of "unreasonableness" and constitutes an arbitrary and capricious exercise of administrative power.   

In their motion to intervene and petition for a rehearing, the states' attorneys general argued the court's decision will deprive millions of Americans basic safeguards as they seek financial advice about their retirement investments.

"The Fiduciary Rule is an important measure that protects and empowers retiring workers for whom every dollar is crucial," California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraTrump's use of Pentagon funds for US-Mexico border wall illegal, court rules LA coroner walks back suicide ruling in hanging death of Robert Fuller amid backlash Supreme Court denies petition to hear 'sanctuary' case MORE (D) said in a statement. The Hill's Lydia Wheeler tells us more here.




Congress could eliminate 'tens of billions of dollars' of waste: GAO: Congress could save tens of billions of dollars by addressing a slew of recommendations, including 65 new ones, according to a report released Thursday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

"While Congress and executive branch agencies have made progress toward addressing the 798 total actions we have identified since 2011, further steps are needed to fully address the 365 actions that are partially addressed or not addressed," the report said.

"We estimate that tens of billions of dollars in additional financial benefits could be realized should Congress and executive branch agencies fully address open actions," it continued.

The report is the 8th annual assessment by the congressional watchdog that seeks to identify areas of overlap, fragmentation and duplication in government programs. The Hill's Niv Elis takes us inside the recommendations.


MARKET CHECK: Stock soared on more positive earnings news Thursday, with all major indexes touching 1 percent gains. The Dow Jones rose 238 points, a 0.99 percent jump, while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 rose 1.64 percent and 1.04 percent each.






  • Amazon will increase the price of its annual Prime plan on May 11.
  • T-Mobile and Sprint have made progress in negotiating merger terms and are aiming to successfully complete deal talks as early as next week, according to Reuters.