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On The Money: US trade chief casts doubt on Canada joining new deal | House panel invites Watt accuser to testify | Brady defends GOP message on tax cuts

On The Money: US trade chief casts doubt on Canada joining new deal | House panel invites Watt accuser to testify | Brady defends GOP message on tax cuts
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Happy Tuesday and welcome back to On The Money. I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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Write us with tips, suggestions and news: slane@thehill.com, vneedham@thehill.com, njagoda@thehill.com and nelis@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @SylvanLane, @VickofTheHill, @NJagoda and @NivElis.

 

THE BIG DEAL--U.S. trade chief casts doubt on Canada joining new NAFTA deal: U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerMcConnell urges GOP senators to call Trump about tariffs Companies brace for trade war MORE on Tuesday cast doubt on the prospects of the U.S. and Mexico reaching a deal with Canada on an updated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by the Sunday deadline.

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"The fact is, Canada is not making concessions in areas where we think they're essential," Lighthizer told the Concordia Summit in New York.

"We're going to go ahead with Mexico," he added. "If Canada comes along now, that would be the best. If Canada comes along later, then that's what will happen."

Why the hold-up matters: The U.S. and Mexico reached a deal last month on updating the three-country trade agreement after excluding Canada from negotiations. President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE hopes to use fast-track trade legislation to get the deal signed before the new, leftist Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador takes office in December.

The fast-track deadline requires Trump to submit the final legislation to Capitol Hill by Sept. 30, leaving just a few days to close significant policy gaps with Canada. Congress appears unlikely to approve an agreement that excludes Canada.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW

 

LEADING THE DAY

House panel invites Watt accuser to testify at Thursday hearing: A Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) employee who has accused Director Mel WattMelvin (Mel) Luther WattOn The Money: Watt's accuser describes sexual harassment claims in stunning testimony | SEC sues Elon Musk for fraud | Mnuchin says GOP hasn’t lost messaging war on taxes Mel Watt's accuser describes sexual harassment claims in stunning testimony On The Money: House passes 4B spending bill to avert shutdown | Trump 'not happy' after Fed's latest rate hike | Trump says he refused meeting with Trudeau MORE of sexual harassment has been invited to testify Thursday at a House hearing where Watt is scheduled to appear.

A spokeswoman for the House Financial Services Committee said Tuesday that panel leaders invited FHFA special advisor Simone Grimes to testify about her allegations that Watt made sexual advances toward her.

The Financial Services panel will hold a hearing Thursday on FHFA oversight where Watt, a former Democratic congressman, is scheduled to appear. Watt has denied Grimes' allegations and has refused to cooperate with a federal investigation into her claims.

Grimes claimed that Watt harassed her 17 times and declined to give her a promised raise when she rejected his advances, according to an investigation report obtained by the Washington Post.

I've got more here on the allegations.

Keep in mind: The hearing is set to begin Thursday at 10 a.m., the same time that the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear testimony from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Stanford professor Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

 

Brady defends GOP messaging on tax cuts: House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Some ObamaCare premiums to decrease next year | Sanders hits back at Trump over 'Medicare for all' | Panel to investigate rising maternal mortality rates House committee to investigate rising maternal mortality rates How the Trump tax law passed: The final stretch MORE (R-Texas) said Tuesday that he still thinks House Republicans' efforts to pass additional tax cuts are smart politically, after an internal Republican National Committee poll showed the 2017 tax law backfiring on the GOP.

The House is expected to vote this week on a package of bills known as "Tax Reform 2.0" that among other things would make permanent the 2017 tax law's individual tax cuts.

The votes, which House Republicans have been discussing for several months, will come after Bloomberg last week reported on a poll commissioned by the RNC that found most voters think the 2017 law benefits corporations and wealthy individuals more than it helps middle-class families.

Brady told reporters Tuesday that he thinks "misleading claims" about the tax law have taken hold but that voters are positive about the economy.

"Everyone feels so much more optimistic about their job prospects, about their potential for increased paychecks and certainly now we're seeing investments come back to America rather than jobs leaving overseas," he said.

The Hill's Naomi Jagoda has more here.

 

Consumer confidence at highest level in almost 18 years: Consumer confidence rose to its highest level in almost 18 years in September, according to data released Tuesday.

The Conference Board's consumer confidence index defied analyst expectations, rising to 138.4 this month, according to results from the business research nonprofit. The index was up from 134.7 in August. 

"Consumers' assessment of current conditions remains extremely favorable, bolstered by a strong economy and robust job growth," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board. "These historically high confidence levels should continue to support healthy consumer spending, and should be welcome news for retailers as they begin gearing up for the holiday season."

 

How the Trump tax law passed: Dealing with a health care hangover: For part two in The Hill's seven-part series on how President Trump's tax law passed Congress, we look at how the Republican failure to enact ObamaCare repeal impacted the passage of the tax overhaul.

 

THE HILL EVENT

Join us Thursday, Sept. 27 for "The Hill's Newsmakers Series" as Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinIMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Trump: Saudi Arabia another case of 'guilty until proven innocent' MORE sits down for a one-on-one interview with Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack to discuss the state of the economy, the new tax law, trade issues and other news of the day. RSVP Here.

 

GOOD TO KNOW

 

ODDS AND ENDS