Overnight Finance: Senators introduce bill to curb Trump's tariff authority | McConnell calls it 'exercise in futility' | Kudlow warns WTO won't dictate policy | Mulvaney feud with consumer advocates deepens

Overnight Finance: Senators introduce bill to curb Trump's tariff authority | McConnell calls it 'exercise in futility' | Kudlow warns WTO won't dictate policy | Mulvaney feud with consumer advocates deepens
© Greg Nash

Happy Wednesday and welcome back to Overnight Finance, which, like Canada, has never burned down the White House. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL: Senators are moving forward with legislation that would curb President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE's authority on tariffs, despite opposition from the White House.

The bill would require Trump to submit tariffs implemented under Section 232 of the trade law for approval to Congress. Any approval legislation would then be fast-tracked through both chambers.

"If the president truly believes invoking Section 232 is necessary to protect the United States from a genuine threat, he should make the case to Congress and to the American people and do the hard work necessary to secure congressional approval," Corker said in a statement announcing the bill.


In addition to Corker, Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampGOP Senate candidate: Allegations against Kavanaugh 'absurd' The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination MORE (D-N.D.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Pa.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerRussia docs order sets Trump on collision with intel community Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless Bipartisan trio asks US intelligence to investigate ‘deepfakes’ MORE (D-Va.), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke MORE (R-Tenn.), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzOvernight Energy: Warren bill would force companies to disclose climate impacts | Green group backs Gillum in Florida gov race | Feds to open refuge near former nuke site Warren wants companies to disclose more about climate change impacts Congress just failed our nation’s veterans when it comes to medical marijuana MORE (D-Hawaii), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonKavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills MORE (R-Wis.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenate Dems to Trump: Reverse cuts to Palestinian aid Overnight Defense: Details on defense spending bill | NATO chief dismisses talk of renaming HQ for McCain | North Korea warns US over cyber allegations Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law MORE (D-Md.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeReexamining presidential power over national monuments Utah group complains Mia Love should face criminal penalties for improper fundraising Senate approves 4B spending bill MORE (R-Utah), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGrassley panel scraps Kavanaugh hearing, warns committee will vote without deal Coulter mocks Kavanaugh accuser: She'll only testify 'from a ski lift' Poll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it MORE (R-Ariz.), 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.) and Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonTrump blasts Tester at Montana rally: 'He loves the swamp' Renaming Senate office building after McCain sparks GOP backlash GOP senator warns Trump: Anyone who trash-talks McCain 'deserves a whipping' MORE (R-Ga.) are supporting the bill.

"There is no real national security threat that these tariffs are a response to. They are an effort to impose a protectionist policy for economic purposes," Toomey said in a floor speech blasting the administration's decisions.
The Hill's Jordain Carney tells us more about the bill here.


Corker rebukes Trump's personal plea: Senators are introducing the legislation despite receiving pushback from Trump, who earlier on Wednesday privately urged Corker not to file his bill.

"I talked at length with the president about it today. He's obviously not pleased with this effort," Corker separately told reporters.

Corker added that Trump's main message in the phone call, which the president initiated, was for Corker to not move forward with the proposal.

But congressional Republicans are becoming increasingly frustrated with Trump's trade policy, which they worry could roil the economy just months before a midterm election. The Hill's Alexander Bolton has more about their concerns here.


No endgame in sight: Trump cranked up long-simmering tensions late last week when he announced he'd impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, ending an exemption for the trading allies.

A group of GOP senators are meeting with Trump on Wednesday at the White House to discuss trade. The meeting was organized by GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamKim, Moon toss ball to Trump in ‘last, best chance’ for Korean peace GOP senator: Kavanaugh accuser 'moving the goalposts' Collins: Kavanaugh accuser should 'reconsider,' testify on Monday MORE (S.C.).

"I think Senator Graham, who is the leader of that meeting, just wants to talk to the president about his endgame," GOP Sen. John CornynJohn CornynKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford MORE (Texas) told reporters, when asked about the meeting.

Notably missing from the supporters of Corker's bill are members of Senate GOP leadership.



  • "There is no real national security threat that these tariffs are a response to. They are an effort to impose a protectionist policy for economic purposes."  -- Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
  • "Now is not the time to undercut President Trump's ability to negotiate better trade deals. I will not support any efforts that weaken his position." -- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

What comes next: Senate GOP leaders have ruled out the chance of Corker's bill getting a vote on its own. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP, Kavanaugh accuser struggle to reach deal GOP making counteroffer to Kavanaugh accuser The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins MORE (R-Ky.) suggested it could be added to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a sprawling defense spending bill.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofePentagon releases report on sexual assault risk Trump privately calls Mattis ‘Moderate Dog’: report Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke MORE (R-Okla.), who is managing the bill, said he wouldn't oppose allowing a vote on Corker's bill to be added as an amendment, but wouldn't support the amendment himself.

But Jordain tells us that the process for setting up roll call votes on amendments to the NDAA has frozen in recent years. Senators will often object to a vote on any amendment unless they can also get a vote on their own proposals.

McConnell doesn't back bill: But McConnell also said in a Wednesday radio interview that he wouldn't support Corker's bill, which he called "an exercise in futility." 

"Yeah, I don't think we need to be trying to rein in the president through legislation," McConnell said.


Takeaway: Opposition to the bill from McConnell and the White House could prove critical to squelching support for it in the Senate, where the GOP leader is well respected and many Republican senators are wary of crossing the White House months before a midterm election. 



  • House Financial Services Committee: Markup of seven bills related to disaster recovery, flood insurance and capital markets access, 11 a.m.
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee: Hearing on "Advancing U.S. Business Investment and Trade in the Americas," 2 p.m.
  • American Enterprise Institute hosts an event on the lessons learned from 10 years of quantitative easing featuring former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, 2 p.m.



The latest in the global backlash to President Trump's tariffs:

EU to impose retaliatory tariffs on US in July: The European Union (EU) is expected to place additional duties on U.S. imports starting in July in response to Trump's tariffs on EU steel and aluminum, according to Reuters.

EU members have given support for a plan that would set 25 percent duties on up to $3.3 billion worth of U.S. goods, Reuters reported.

"The Commission expects to conclude the relevant procedure in coordination with member states before the end of June so that the new duties start applying in July," Commissioner Maros Sefcovic said on Wednesday at a press conference.

According to Reuters, EU exports now subject to Trump's tariffs are worth more than $7.5 billion.

The EU plan would also impose duties between 10 and 50 percent on $4.2 billion worth of U.S. goods in March 2021, or sooner if the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules that Trump's tariffs are illegal, Reuters reported. The EU challenged the tariffs at the WTO on Friday.


Background: The WTO advanced trade complaints from the European Union and Canada against the United States on Wednesday.


Kudlow warns WTO won't determine US policy as summit nears: The president's top economic adviser on Wednesday implied that the U.S. may not abide by any rulings from the WTO, a tough signal ahead of a Group of Seven summit this weekend where Trump is expected to face a backlash from allied leaders over his protectionist trade agenda.

"International, multilateral organizations are not going to determine American policy," White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters at a press briefing organized to preview President Trump's trip to Canada for the G-7.

The comments paint an unyielding stance on trade as the president prepares to meet with leaders from Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. Ahead of the summit, the WTO circulated formal complaints from Canada and the European Union against the tariffs. The Hill's Niv Elis explains here.


FINANCE IN FOCUS--Trump to face lion's den at G-7 summit: President Trump will walk into a lion's den of angry allied leaders at this week's Group of Seven summit, where he is expected to face a firestorm of criticism over his decision to hit them with steep tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Trump's decision to levy tariffs has rankled allies and created divisions in the longstanding relationships. It's creating a stark contrast from the last decade of G-7 summits, which generally have served as opportunities for the world's seven largest economies to close ranks on major political and economic issues. 

Washington's moves have brought the closely linked nations to the brink of an all-out trade war, setting the stage for a showdown in Quebec and one of the most difficult G-7 meetings for a U.S. president. The Hill's Vicki Needham and Niv Elis tell us why here.


Mulvaney deepens feud with consumer advocates after board shutdown: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Wednesday said it is making cuts to three key advisory boards, enraging advocates who say the agency's acting director doesn't want to engage with dissenting opinions. 
The CFPB told members of the advisory boards Wednesday that the bureau would shrink the groups and shift the agency's external outreach to town halls and roundtables across the U.S., citing cost concerns.

The CFPB told board members in a Wednesday email that the groups wouldn't meet until the bureau selects their replacements.

Members of the bureau's Consumer Advisory Board expressed the most outrage over the decision, and have feuded with Mulvaney over the CFPB's direction for months. The 25-person board represents a slew of consumer advocacy, legal aid and fair lending groups that have opposed Mulvaney's efforts to ease the CFPB's regulation of banks and lenders.

Mulvaney has sought to slash the CFPB's budget and reshape the bureau from within, aiming to streamline an agency he has insisted should not exist.

But CAB members said Mulvaney's move to reshape the board is meant to silence opponents of the bureau's new direction. I explain why here.


MARKET CHECK: From CNBC: "Stocks rose on Wednesday as bank shares rallied on higher interest rates, while Boeing rose.

"The Dow Jones industrial average closed 346.41 points higher at 25,146.39 with Boeing rising 3.2 percent and contributing the most to the gains. J.P Morgan and Goldman Sachs were also among the biggest contributors of gains. The Dow also closed above 25,000 for the first time since mid-March.

"The S&P 500 gained 0.9 percent to finish at 2,772.35 as financials rose 1.9 percent. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield rose to 2.98 percent on Wednesday, following yields in Europe after the European Central Bank hinted at winding down its asset-purchasing program."




  • Huawei, which the U.S. had flagged as a national security threat, was one of at least four companies that Facebook had data-sharing partnerships with, The New York Times reported.