On The Money: McMahon to step down as Small Business administrator | Trump defends reversing North Korea sanctions | White House touts progress in China trade talks | 2020 Dem Inslee releases his tax returns

Happy Friday and welcome back to On The Money. I'm Niv Elis, filling in for Sylvan Lane to bring you a wrap up of the latest finance news from Capitol Hill and beyond. See something I missed? Let me know at nelis@thehill.com or tweet me @NivElis. And if you like your newsletter, you can subscribe to it here: http://bit.ly/1NxxW2N.

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THE BIG DEAL--McMahon stepping down as Small Business administrator

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE announced Friday that Small Business Administrator Linda McMahonLinda Marie McMahonFormer White House aide who mocked McCain joins pro-Trump super PAC Trump Cabinet down to three women amid administration turnover The Hill's Morning Report - Trump cleaning house on border security MORE will leave her position as she transitions to a role with a political group supporting his reelection campaign.

Trump made the announcement during a press availability from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.

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"We'll be making the new nomination and appointment in the very short distance," Trump said as he and McMahon sat on a couch at the property. "And that will be in consultation with Linda, but I just have to say that this is an outstanding woman who's done an outstanding job."

 

What's next: McMahon said in an emailed statement to The Hill that she would resign from her role effective April 12. "While it has truly been the honor of a lifetime to serve our country in this Administration, it is time for me to step down and return to the private sector," McMahon said in the statement.

She will now serve on the board at America First, a pro-Trump super PAC supporting the president's 2020 reelection bid.

McMahon was one of the original Cabinet members from the start of the Trump administration.

 

McMahon's background: McMahon, 70, is the former co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), which she started with her husband, Vince McMahon.

Trump and Linda McMahon knew each other previously from her time as CEO of the company. Trump has appeared at WWE events and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2013.

McMahon launched a political career in 2010 when she ran an unsuccessful Senate campaign against Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). She again ran for Senate in 2012 but lost to Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates More than 30 Senate Dems ask Trump to reconsider Central American aid cuts Long-shot goal of nixing Electoral College picks up steam MORE (D-Conn.).

She joined the Trump administration from the outset in early 2017 and for two years oversaw efforts to spur small business growth. She is just one of five women in Trump's Cabinet.

 

What we don't know: It's unclear who Trump will nominate as McMahon's replacement.  

 

The Hill's Brett Samuels has more on McMahon's exit here.

 

LEADING THE DAY

White House touts progress in China trade talks: The White House says it is making progress in talks with China on trade.

A team led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerChinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Lighthizer, Mnuchin to travel to China for latest round of trade talks On The Money: Treasury misses second Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Waters renews calls for impeachment | Dem wants Fed pick to apologize for calling Ohio cities 'armpits of America' | Stocks reach record high after long recovery MORE met with negotiators in China this week to seek changes to the U.S.-China trade relationship that might allow the lifting of tariffs imposed on Chinese imports by President Trump.

China responded to those imports with its own actions, which have led to steep cuts in sales of soybeans and other products in China from U.S. farmers.

Key quote: "The two parties continued to make progress during candid and constructive discussions on the negotiations and important next steps," the statement Friday from the White House said.

Key points:

  • Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Thursday that the country would expand access for foreign financial firms in China.
  • Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to meet in April, a meeting that was postponed after talks stalled earlier this month.
  • But hold on. Even if a deal is reached, the White House may not drop all of its tariffs on the rising power.

More on where the talks stand here

 

Trump defends reversing North Korea sanctions: President Trump on Friday offered his first explanation for ordering the reversal of North Korea-related sanctions announced by his own Treasury Department last week, attributing it to his personal rapport with Kim Jong Un.

"We understand each other," Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. "They are suffering greatly in North Korea, they're having a hard time in North Korea, and I just didn't think additional sanctions at this time were necessary.

"Doesn't mean I don't put them on later," he added. "But I didn't think that additional sanctions at this time were necessary."

The controversy: Trump sparked widespread confusion last week when he tweeted that he had "ordered the withdrawal" of "large scale Sanctions" announced by the U.S. Treasury Department against North Korea.

But the Treasury had not announced sanctions that day. The department had publicized sanctions one day earlier on two Chinese shipping companies accused of helping North Korea evade existing sanctions.

The Hill's Brett Samuels has more here on Trump's remarks.

 

Third defeat for May's Brexit deal: A Brexit deal proposed by British Prime Minister Theresa May was voted down on Friday for the third time by Parliament, leaving open the possibility of a disorderly departure from the European Union.

"It should be a matter of profound regret to every member of this House that once again we have been unable to support leaving the European Union in an orderly fashion," May said after the vote.

"The legal default now is that United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on the 12th of April," she added. "That is not enough time to agree, legislate for and ratify a deal, and yet the House [of Commons] has been clear it will not permit leaving without a deal, and so we will have to agree an alternative way forward."

How we got here. The country was originally scheduled to leave the European Union on Friday but had been granted an extension until April 12 in order to allow May another attempt at passing a deal through Parliament.

What's next: After the latest deal rejection, European Council President Donald Tusk called for an EU meeting for April 10, just two days before the U.K. is now scheduled to leave.

Read more here.

 

2020 Dem Inslee releases tax returns: Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeWashington House passes bill to make daylight saving time permanent 2020 Dems rebuke Trump on Iran, say they'd put US back in nuclear deal Washington poised to become first state allowing 'human composting' MORE (D), who is running for president, posted 12 years of his tax returns on his campaign website Friday, calling on President Trump to similarly release his tax filings.

"It is time for him to come clean with the American people," Inslee told "Fox & Friends," which Trump is known to watch. "He's got to show what he's been hiding, and Americans deserve that truth."

Inslee's website includes tax returns from 2007 to 2018. He had disclosed the returns from 2007 through 2015 during his gubernatorial campaigns.

The big picture: Inslee is the second Democratic presidential candidate to release their 2018 tax return, after Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? K Street support to test Buttigieg Kamala Harris backs putting third gender option on federal ID MORE (D-N.Y.) did so earlier this week. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Minorities, older adults push Biden to top of 2020 poll The difference between good and bad tax reform MORE (D-Mass.) has already released her tax returns for 2008 to 2017. More candidates are likely to release their returns as the April 15 filing deadline approaches.

The politics: By releasing their tax returns, the Democrats are drawing a contrast with Trump, who in 2016 became the first major-party nominee in decades to refuse to release any of his tax returns. Trump has said he won't release his returns while under audit, but the IRS has said nothing prevents people from disclosing their own tax information.

Read more from Naomi Jagoda here.

 

ON TAP NEXT WEEK

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

  • House Appropriators will hold hearings on the FBI budget (9:30 a.m.).
  • Senate Appropriators will hold hearings on the budget for the Department of Health and Human Services (10:00 a.m.). 

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • The Dow Jones was up over 200 points on Friday, closing out a robust first quarter that followed a dour December, according to CNBC.
  • Top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow is pushing Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to cut interest rates by 50 basis points, according to Axios.
  • Ride-sharing app Lyft raised $2.3 billion in an initial public offering.
  • A group backed by GOP mega-donor Charles Koch is launching an ad blitz pushing lawmakers to reject Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) proposal to break up tech giants.
  • President Trump on Friday signed a presidential permit to jump-start construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline with a facility in Montana, a move seen as a way to circumvent previous court orders halting development.