On The Money: Wall fight raises odds of 'continuous' stopgap measures | Warren under pressure over how to pay for 'Medicare for All' | Mnuchin surprises Trump by saying US scrapped Chinese farm tours

On The Money: Wall fight raises odds of 'continuous' stopgap measures | Warren under pressure over how to pay for 'Medicare for All' | Mnuchin surprises Trump by saying US scrapped Chinese farm tours
© Getty Images

Happy Monday 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.

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.

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

 

THE BIG DEAL--Fight over Trump's wall raises odds of 'continuous' stopgap measures: Congress is moving toward passing a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown, but some lawmakers are warning it could be the first in a series of stopgap funding measures over the next year to avoid a fight over President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE's border wall.

  • Lawmakers are hoping to avoid a repeat of December's fight over Trump's border wall, which led to a 35-day partial government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history.
  • In the first two years of Trump's presidency, negotiators resolved the wall issue by agreeing to put a very limited amount of funding toward rebuilding pedestrian fencing and reinforcing existing border barriers. That solution allowed both sides to claim victory -- Trump could say money was going toward the wall, while Democrats could say nothing new was being built.
  • But ever since Trump's emergency declaration to build the wall following the last shutdown, the spending fight has spread beyond the lone homeland security bill that deals with border issues.

Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate GOP braces for impeachment trial 'roller coaster' McConnell tees up government funding votes amid stalemate GOP warns Graham letter to Pelosi on impeachment could 'backfire' MORE (R-Ala.), the top appropriator in the Senate, said it's possible Congress will spend the next fiscal year passing several stopgap bills, known as continuing resolutions (CRs).

ADVERTISEMENT

"I don't know if we'll end up in a shutdown, but we could end up with continuous CRs," he said. "That could be the endgame." The Hill's Niv Elis explains why here.

 

The conflict: 

  • Democrats and a few Republicans fumed after Trump used presidential emergency powers to reprogram military funds toward building the wall but couldn't rally support to overturn Trump's action over his veto.
  • Trump has since redirected $2.5 billion in Pentagon drug trafficking funds, $600 million from the Treasury Department's asset forfeiture fund and, most recently, $3.6 billion in military construction funds.
  • With Democrats now demanding safeguards to prevent Trump from using newly appropriated funds for the wall and refusing to backfill military accounts emptied for wall construction, the conflict has spread from the homeland security bill to other spending measures such as defense and military construction and veterans affairs' bills.

 

ON TAP TOMORROW

  • The House Financial Services Committee holds an oversight hearing of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), featuring all five SEC commissioners, 10 a.m.
  • A House Appropriations subcommittee holds an oversight hearing of the Internal Revenue Service with Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George, 10 a.m.
  • A House Financial Services subcommittee holds a hearing entitled "Examining the Racial and Gender Wealth Gap in America," 2 p.m.

 

LEADING THE DAY

Warren comes under new pressure over Medicare for All and higher taxes: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Warren, Yang fight over automation divides experts Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE (D-Mass.) is facing increasing pressure from her 2020 rivals to spell out how she'd pay for her "Medicare for All" proposal.

  • Warren has been asked several times whether taxes would have to go up on the middle class to pay for her universal health care plan, most notably at the debate earlier this month in Houston.
  • She has consistently avoided giving a yes or no answer, saying instead that middle-class families' overall health costs would decline but without specifying whether their taxes would increase.
  • Other Democrats are now accusing her of being less than candid or even dishonest about the consequences Medicare for All, an issue that has split the 2020 Democratic presidential field.

Why? The pressure comes as Warren builds momentum in the presidential primary race and suggests she is likely to come under a harsher spotlight as other candidates seek to compete with her for the 2020 Democratic nomination. The Hill's Naomi Jagoda and Jonathan Easley fill you in here.

 

Mnuchin surprises Trump by saying US scrapped Chinese farm tours: Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTop economic adviser warned Trump on reelection chances ahead of China truce: report The Hill's Morning Report - Tempers boil over at the White House Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE on Monday said that a Chinese delegation canceled visits to U.S. farm communities last week at the administration's request, a comment that caught President Trump by surprise.

Trump was asked during a bilateral meeting with the Egyptian president about the cancellation and what he thought it meant for trade talks with Beijing. The president deferred to Mnuchin, who downplayed the significance of the move. 

  • "That was actually at our request they delayed that," Mnuchin said. "We didn't want there to be any confusion. They have started buying agriculture. They're going to reschedule that at a different time. The timing didn't work, but that was our request."
  • "Why was that at our request, just out of curiosity?" Trump said.
  • "We didn't want confusion," Mnuchin responded.
  • "Yeah, but I want them to buy farm products," Trump interjected.

Mnuchin then clarified that China has committed to buy U.S. agricultural products as part of ongoing negotiations. The Hill's Brett Samuels has more on the bewildering exchange here.

Despite the cancelation, Chinese companies imported roughly 10 boatloads of soybeans from American farmers on Monday following mid-level trade talks, Reuters reported.

The deals for about 600,000 tons of soybeans were similar in size to a wave of buying earlier this month, two traders told Reuters.

 

NY prosecutors ask judge to dismiss Trump lawsuit over subpoena: The Manhattan District Attorney's Office on Monday argued that a federal judge should reject President Trump's lawsuit over New York prosecutors' subpoenas of his tax returns from his accounting firm.

In a filing, the district attorney's office asked the judge in the case to dismiss Trump's complaint and his call for a temporary restraining order preventing Mazars USA, Trump's accounting firm, from complying with the subpoena.

The filing argues that the correct venue for any challenge should be New York state court and not federal court.

"The subpoena is amenable to the same challenges in the New York courts that a federal forum provides, and the Plaintiff has failed to show as a threshold matter why this Court should be tasked with overseeing its enforcement," a memo from the district attorney's office argues.

"Important separation of powers and federalism concerns prohibit federal litigation of a state court subpoena. ... This Court should dismiss the complaint in favor of a state court forum," it continues. 

Background: The Manhattan District Attorney's Office late last month issued a grand jury subpoena to Mazars for the president's tax returns and other financial records. The subpoena is part of the office's investigation into payments made to Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress who said she received money in exchange for keeping quiet ahead of the 2016 election about an alleged affair she had with Trump.

The Hill's Naomi Jagoda has more here.

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • ProPublica: "Companies Are Using a Depression-Era Law To Escape Trump's Tariffs -- And It's Costing Them"