Overnight Finance

On The Money — GOP senators block Biden’s Fed picks

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is seen during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing to discuss oversight of the CARES Act within the Federal Reserve and Department of Treasury on Tuesday, September 28, 2021.
Greg Nash

Happy Tuesday and welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.  

Today’s Big Deal: President Biden has five Federal Reserve nominees going nowhere fast. We’ll also look at a spike in wholesale prices and progress toward a government funding deal.  

But first, find out about a $650 million Ponzi scheme. 

For The Hill, we’re Sylvan Lane, Aris Folley and Karl Evers-Hillstrom.  Reach us at slane@thehill.com or @SylvanLane, afolley@thehill.com or @ArisFolley and kevers@thehill.com or @KarlMEvers. 

Let’s get to it. 

GOP boycotts Biden Fed nominees’ vote  

Republican senators blocked votes on President Biden’s five Federal Reserve nominees Tuesday, leaving the future of the central bank in question amid surging inflation.   

  • Each of the 12 Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee boycotted a Tuesday meeting where the panel was set to vote on Biden’s five Fed nominees, along with his pick to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).  
  • Their refusal to attend the meeting meant the panel did not have a quorum, a sufficient number of senators present to hold a vote on nominees under Senate rules.  

The background: Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.), the top Republican on the Banking panel, said Tuesday morning he and his GOP colleagues would block the vote on all five of Biden’s Fed nominees because Democrats refused to take Raskin off Tuesday’s slate.   

  • In a Tuesday statement announcing the boycott, Toomey claimed Raskin had provided insufficient and misleading answers about her history on the board of a payments company that obtained access to the Fed’s payment processing system.  
  • But Brown said during the Tuesday meeting that Raskin fully answered more than 180 follow-up questions from Republican senators after her confirmation hearing earlier this month.   

Sylvan has more here. 


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CHAIN REACTION

Wholesale inflation increase higher than forecast  

Prices charged by producers rose 1 percent in January, according to data released Tuesday by the Labor Department, twice the jump projected by economists. 

  • The producer price index (PPI) for final demand, which tracks wholesale prices for goods and services, rose far higher than the 0.5 percent consensus estimate in January.  
  • On an annual basis, the PPI for final demand was up 9.7 percent, in line with a record set in December.

Supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, COVID-19 containment measures and other pandemic-related obstacles have hindered manufacturers and suppliers from meeting a rush of consumer demand. The global squeeze has driven prices higher for businesses, prompting a sharp increase in consumer prices as well. 

Sylvan explains here. 

TOP OF THE LINE

Negotiators make progress in fiscal 2022 spending talks 

Congressional negotiators are making headway in government spending talks, top lawmakers signaled Tuesday. All of the Senate Appropriations subcommittees have received their top-line spending numbers for fiscal 2022. 

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday that all 12 of the chamber’s appropriations subcommittees have received allocation figures for their portions of the fiscal 2022 budget. 

  • In remarks to reporters on Monday night, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, wouldn’t say what his panel was allocated, but said “it’s better than [he] expected.” 
  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, said appropriators worked through the weekend to hash out allocations. The progress arrives as negotiators are running up on a Feb. 18 deadline to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown. 

The news comes days after Shelby said negotiators struck an agreement on the framework for an omnibus spending package, which he added would be key to helping leaders secure top-line numbers for defense and nondefense discretionary spending.  

The announcement, which Shelby described as a “breakthrough” at the time, follows a months-long stalemate between both sides of the aisle over a range of disagreements, including parity between defense and nondefense spending, as well as legislative riders. 

Aris has more here. 

 

PAIN AT THE PUMP

Biden warns energy prices could be impacted if Russia invades Ukraine 

President Biden on Tuesday warned that there will be consequences for Americans at home if Russia decides to invade Ukraine, notably through prices at the gas pump.  

“I will not pretend this will be painless, there could be impact on our energy prices. So, we are taking active steps to elevate the pressure on our own energy markets to offset raising prices,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. 

The president said those steps include coordinating with major energy consumers and producers and working with Congress on additional measures in order to address the impact of gas prices. 

  • Russia was the third-biggest supplier of foreign petroleum for the U.S in 2020, responsible for 7 percent of imported oil. 
  • Gasoline prices have been a huge contributor to soaring inflation, rising 40 percent between January 2021 and January 2022. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday that Biden “wasn’t making a market assessment or how the market moves.” 

The Hill’s Alex Gangitano has more here. 

Good to Know

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) failed to report stock transactions by a mandated deadline, but he will not be fined because he disclosed the trades within a “grace period.” 

Schrader was 10 days late disclosing that he sold shares of Charter Communications, Inc. and AON PLC, a company that assists insurance carriers, in December. He joins more than 50 lawmakers who have violated stock trading rules in recent years. 

Here’s what else we have our eye on: 

  • Automakers are resuming normal production after a bridge connecting the U.S. and Canada was cleared of protesters. 
  • Former New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez is part of a group that is seeking to purchase the leasing rights to former President Trump’s hotel in Washington, D.C. 
  • Facebook will pay $90 million to settle a privacy lawsuit alleging that the tech giant used “cookies” to track users’ internet use even after they logged off the social media platform.  
  • President Biden’s pick to serve as deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration is taking on a position at the State Department after Senate Republicans blocked his nomination. 

 

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow. 

Tags Chris Murphy Donald Trump Jen Psaki Joe Biden Jon Tester Kurt Schrader Pat Toomey Patrick Leahy

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