On The Money: White House, Dems edge closer to trade deal | GOP worries about Trump concessions | DOJ argues Congress can't sue Trump on emoluments | Former Fed chief Volcker dies

On The Money: White House, Dems edge closer to trade deal | GOP worries about Trump concessions | DOJ argues Congress can't sue Trump on emoluments | Former Fed chief Volcker dies
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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.

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THE BIG DEAL--White House, Democrats edge closer to North American trade deal:

President TrumpDonald John TrumpComey responds to Trump with Mariah Carey gif: 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' Congress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel drama New York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff MORE and House Democrats appear to be closing in on a deal to approve a new North American free trade agreement in what would set up a major legislative victory for both sides.  

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka briefed his labor confederation's executive committee on the emerging deal on Monday, while 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 and White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Democrats duke it out during Nevada debate Blagojevich heaps praise on Trump after release from prison The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders on the rise as Nevada debate looms MORE were reportedly set to travel to Mexico.

The trip suggests a last-minute move by Kushner and Lighthizer to get a final stamp of approval on the deal from Mexico.

A senior House Democratic aide urged caution on Monday, telling The Hill that the caucus is "still studying the proposal" to approve Trump's proposed U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA).

But the fast-moving events suggested that the White House and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCongress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel drama New York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff Twitter, Facebook split on manipulated Bloomberg video MORE (D-Calif.) were edging closer to an agreement that would make sense for both sides even as they battle over the House's march toward impeaching Trump.  


 I've got more on the push to cement USMCA here.


But Republicans have some worries: Two members of the Senate's GOP leadership signaled on Monday there are concerns among Republicans that President Trump's trade deal with Mexico and Canada may have shifted too far to the left as part of an effort to get Democrats on board.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynOcasio-Cortez announces slate of all-female congressional endorsements Trump Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan warnings Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop GOP super PAC spent money on NC Democrat Everytown plans ad blitz on anniversary of House background check bill Kentucky state official says foreign adversaries 'routinely' scan election systems MORE (R-Ky.), said a deal that the AFL-CIO's endorsed "could be problematic," but vowed to reserve judgement until senators got a presentation on the agreement.

"I just hope he hasn't gone too far in Speaker Pelosi's direction, and the AFL-CIO's direction that he might lose some support here," he said. "My concern is that what the administration presented has now been moved demonstrably to Democrats, the direction that they wanted."

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneMcConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills Senate votes to rein in Trump's power to attack Iran As many as eight GOP senators expected to vote to curb Trump's power to attack Iran MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Republican in the upper chamber, said he hoped senators would get a briefing on a finalized agreement this week, and that Republicans wanted to know what concessions were made to get Democrats on board.

More from The Hill's Jordain Carney on GOP concerns here.



  • The House Financial Services Committee holds a markup of nine bills covering issues from student loan borrower protections, cybersecurity and financial sector diversity, 10 a.m.



DOJ argues Congress can't take non-legislative steps against Trump on emoluments: The Department of Justice argued before a federal appeals court on Monday that the only way for Congress to take action against President Trump over alleged violations of the Constitution's emoluments clause would be to pass legislation.

During oral arguments before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, Hashim Moopan, an attorney with the Justice Department, said that a group of lawmakers suing Trump have no recourse other than legislation for taking action if they think the president has violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause.

"The only role that the constitution gives Congress with respect to the Foreign Emoluments Clause is to allow [emoluments]," Moopan said.

"The Constitution already prohibits the acceptance of emoluments, absent congressional consent. So unless they are going to stand up here and say that what they really want to do is approve them, and that's why they're so injured, their argument just doesn't make any sense," Moopan said.

One judge appeared skeptical of that argument.

The Hill's Harper Neidig explains the case here.


The background: The courts are grappling with how to interpret the constitution's Foreign Emoluments Clause, which prohibits government officials from accepting "any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State" without the consent of Congress.

  • A group of more than 200 Democratic lawmakers are arguing that the president robbed them of their role to approve any emoluments he receives by not seeking congressional consent.
  • The provision has largely gone unexamined by the courts over the past 230 years, but was revived in several cases against the president for not selling off his network of private businesses, including hotels frequented by foreign diplomats.


Paul Volcker, former Fed chief who quashed inflation, dies at 92: Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve under Presidents Carter and Reagan who later played a role in the Obama administration's response to the financial crisis of 2009, has died at the age of 92.


The Volcker Alliance, the former chairman's non-profit group, announced that he died Sunday.

Volcker served as Fed chairman from 1979 to 1987. He is known best for using high interest rates to reverse decades of runaway inflation at the cost of a grueling recession. While Volcker was vilified by lawmakers in both parties, as well as farmers, homebuilders and manufacturers hit hardest by higher borrowing costs, he has been credited since for stabilizing the economy after years of rampant price increases.

I've got more on his legacy here.


Beyond inflation: Volcker, a Democrat, played crucial roles in economic policy for several presidents in both parties, defining administrations and the trajectory of the U.S. economy for decades to come.

  • As Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, Volcker was a driving force behind Nixon's decision to abandon the gold standard, which tied the U.S. dollar to a fixed amount of gold.
  • Volcker also chaired former President Obama's economic recovery advisory board and advocated for stricter limits on the risky investment practices that led to the 2007 crisis.
  • Volcker advocated for a provision of Dodd-Frank that banned banks from using their own capital to make high-risk bets. That rule, known as the "Volcker Rule," was among the financial industry's chief concerns with Dodd-Frank and was formally loosened earlier this year by Trump-appointed regulators.



  • "I'll remember Paul for his consummate wisdom, untethered honesty, and a level of dignity that matched his towering stature." -- Former President Obama.
  • "His life exemplified the highest ideals–integrity, courage, and a commitment to do what was best for all Americans." -- Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. 



  • Top appropriators made little progress in crafting a new spending deal over the weekend, leaving them little time to reach a deal before a Dec. 20 deadline. 
  • The U.S. government deficit rose by 12 percent in the first two months of the 2020 fiscal year, hitting $342 billion, according to new estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.
  • The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has opened an investigation into Google's labor practices after the tech giant fired four longtime employees involved in worker activism last month, an agency official confirmed to The Hill on Monday.
  • President Trump is defending Google, Facebook and other big tech companies he's repeatedly railed against from France's digital tax, a position that underscores how Trump's policies on tech don't always match his fiery, antagonistic rhetoric.



  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear oral arguments in the latest ObamaCare case to reach the justices, this time in a $12 billion dispute over payments insurers say they are owed by the federal government.