This Week in Washington for January 29, 2018
By Dina Ellis and Casey Miller
THE BIG PICTURE
Congress passed a short-term funding bill at the beginning of last week, which funds the government until February 8. The deal would reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program for six years, and would delay Obamacare's medical device and Cadillac plan taxes for two years and its health insurance tax for one year.
The New York Times published a story last week, revealing that President Trump tried to fire special counsel Robert Mueller in June and only backed down when White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit. President Trump called the story "fake news." Last week, Mueller interviewed Attorney General Jeff Sessions for several hours as part of his ongoing investigation into Russia ties.
The President spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, highlighting his "America First" policy and reiterating that the U.S. is "open for business." Speaking to Apple CEO Tim Cook, he urged the company to move manufacturing jobs from China to the U.S.
The White House presented an immigration plan last week that would provide a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants. A senior White House official said that the proposal is a "compromise position" that they believe will get 60 votes. The proposal includes a US$25B fund for border security.
Related to the budget, the White House announced that it will deliver its request to Congress on February 12 or later. It also announced on January 24 that its long-awaited infrastructure plan would be released in a couple of weeks.
The Senate confirmed Trump's pick for Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar. Also confirmed last week was Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal Reserve.
In court news, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed to expedite an appeal from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's deputy director Leandra English in her suit claiming that she should be acting director of the agency.
On the election front, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is expected to announce his run for Utah's Senate seat this week
LAST WEEK ON THE HILL
SENATE BANKING COMMITTEE
The Honorable Heath P. Tarbert, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Markets and Investment Policy;
The Honorable Richard Ashooh, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration; and
Mr. Eric Chewning, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy (MIBP).
Committee Holds Nomination Hearing: On January 23, the Committee held a hearing to evaluate the following nominations:
Ms. Jelena McWilliams, to be Chairperson and a Member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation;
Dr. Marvin Goodfriend, to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; and
Mr. Thomas E. Workman, to be a Member of the Financial Stability Oversight Council.
If confirmed, McWilliams could soon be leading a smaller, all-Republican board. According to her testimony at the hearing, she will focus on easing regulatory requirements for community banks, encouraging the creation of new banks, and tackling cybersecurity. If confirmed, FDIC Vice Chairman Thomas Hoenig will remain Chairman until his term ends in April.
Also at the hearing, Democrats grilled Federal Reserve nominee Marvin Goodfriend over why his predictions of impending inflation over the last few years were so wrong.
THIS WEEK ON THE HILL
Monday, January 29
The following bills will be considered in the House under suspension of the rules:
H.R. 1457- To establish requirements for use of a driver’s license or personal identification card by certain financial institutions for opening an account or obtaining a financial product or service, and for other purposes, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Scott Tipton / Financial Services Committee)
H.R. 1426- Federal Savings Association Charter Flexibility Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. Keith Rothfus / Financial Services Committee)
H.R. 2255- To clarify that nonprofit organizations may accept donated mortgage appraisals, and for other purposes, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Dave Trott / Financial Services Committee)
H.R. 4292- Financial Institution Living Will Improvement Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. Lee Zeldin / Financial Services Committee)
H.R. 4792- Small Business Access to Capital After a Natural Disaster Act (Sponsored by Rep. Nydia Velázquez / Financial Services Committee)
Tuesday, January 30
House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, Hearing entitled “
Mr. Nathaniel Hoopes, Executive Director, Marketplace Lending Association
Mr. Brian Knight, Director, Program on Financial Regulation and Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center, George Mason University
Mr. Brian Peters, Executive Director, Financial Innovation Now
Mr. Andrew Smith, Partner, Covington and Burling, LLP
Prof. Adam J. Levitin, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
Senate Banking Committee, Hearing, "
The Honorable Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary, United States Department of the Treasury.
House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Hearing entitled “
Mr. Bassem Banafa, Financial Forensics Consultant, Bassem Banafa, LLC
Dr. Louise I. Shelley, Founder and Director, Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, George Mason University
The Honorable Cyrus R. Vance Jr., District Attorney, New York County, District Attorney’s Office
Ms. Tina Frundt, Founder and Director, Courtney’s House
CFTC Announces Third Cryptocurrency Fraud Suit this Month: The CFTC announced last week that it had sued and frozen the assets of the creators of purported cryptocurrency "My Big Coin." The creators allegedly took US$6M from buyers and used it on shopping sprees and paying off early investors.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Finalizes Changes to Prepaid Accounts Rule: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) announced on January 25 that it has finalized updates to its 2016 prepaid rule. The Bureau’s 2016 prepaid rule put in place requirements for treatment of funds on lost or stolen cards, error resolution and investigation, upfront fee disclosures, access to account information, and overdraft features if offered in conjunction with prepaid accounts. The changes announced today adjust requirements for resolving errors on unregistered accounts, provide greater flexibility for credit cards linked to digital wallets, and extend the effective date of the rule by one year to April 2019.