Kudlow: China’s ZTE won’t get off ‘scot-free’

Giant Chinese phone-maker ZTE will not get off "scot-free" as the Trump administration considers easing penalties on the company amid broader trade negotiations with Beijing, top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Sunday.

Trump last week made a surprise announcement that he would try to help save Chinese jobs by asking the Commerce Department to relax law enforcement penalties imposed on ZTE for violating U.S. sanctions on telecommunications sales to North Korea and Iran.

In an interview Sunday on ABC’s "This Week", Kudlow said penalties on ZTE would continue to be "very, very tough including big fines, compliance measures, new management, new boards." The question, he said, is whether "there are perhaps some small changes around the edges."

"Do not, please, do not expect ZTE to get off scot-free," he said. "It ain’t gonna happen."

The issue is on the table as the U.S. Continue reading “Kudlow: China’s ZTE won’t get off ‘scot-free’”

Oliver North looks to recruit millions to NRA

Incoming National Rifle Association President Oliver North said Sunday that he wants to expand the powerful group’s membership by millions as it looks to fend off gun control efforts amid an outbreak of fatal school shootings.

North outlined his plans in a "Fox News Sunday" interview after 10 people were killed Friday in a shooting at Santa Fe High School near Houston. The massacre has again prompted calls for Congress to take action.

North, best known for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal during the 1980s, said Sunday that he is looking at ways to more than double the NRA’s membership of 6 million — an expansion aimed at boosting the group’s political clout.

"My goal is a million more members," he said. "Then I’m going to go out and ask every NRA member to recruit one more. That will put 14 million activists on the street — not the Continue reading “Oliver North looks to recruit millions to NRA”

Oliver North looks to recruit millions to NRA

Incoming National Rifle Association President Oliver North said Sunday that he wants to expand the powerful group’s membership by millions as it looks to fend off gun control efforts amid an outbreak of fatal school shootings.

North outlined his plans in a "Fox News Sunday" interview after 10 people were killed Friday in a shooting at Santa Fe High School near Houston. The massacre has again prompted calls for Congress to take action.

North, best known for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal during the 1980s, said Sunday that he is looking at ways to more than double the NRA’s membership of 6 million — an expansion aimed at boosting the group’s political clout.

"My goal is a million more members," he said. "Then I’m going to go out and ask every NRA member to recruit one more. That will put 14 million activists on the street — not the Continue reading “Oliver North looks to recruit millions to NRA”

Mnuchin: China trade war ‘on hold’

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that the Trump administration will hold off from imposing tariffs on China as leaders from both nations try to hammer out agreements on trade.

The administration had earlier threatened $50 billion to $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods as a way to deter the theft of U.S. intellectual property and forced transfers of technology.

"We’re putting the trade war on hold," Mnuchin said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." "Right now, we have agreed to put tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework."

The U.S. and China conducted high-level talks in Washington in recent days. Mnuchin on Sunday outlined targets for boosting sales of agriculture and energy products.

"We are immediately going to follow this up with [Commerce Secretary Wilbur] Ross going there with very hard commitments in agriculture, where we expect to see a Continue reading “Mnuchin: China trade war ‘on hold’”

Mnuchin: China trade war ‘on hold’

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that the Trump administration will hold off from imposing tariffs on China as leaders from both nations try to hammer out agreements on trade.

The administration had earlier threatened $50 billion to $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods as a way to deter the theft of U.S. intellectual property and forced transfers of technology.

"We’re putting the trade war on hold," Mnuchin said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." "Right now, we have agreed to put tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework."

The U.S. and China conducted high-level talks in Washington in recent days. Mnuchin on Sunday outlined targets for boosting sales of agriculture and energy products.

"We are immediately going to follow this up with [Commerce Secretary Wilbur] Ross going there with very hard commitments in agriculture, where we expect to see a Continue reading “Mnuchin: China trade war ‘on hold’”

House votes to kill CFPB auto-lending guidelines

The House voted Tuesday to strike down an Obama-era auto-lending safeguard using a novel maneuver that consumer watchdogs warn could expose decades of federal regulation to the same fate.

In a 234-175 vote, the House agreed to eliminate 2013 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau guidelines that the agency drafted to combat racial discrimination by auto dealers that facilitate car loans for their customers. President Donald Trump is expected to sign off on the rollback, which the Senate first passed last month.

The repercussions of the move may be felt well beyond the CFPB, which is already being reined in under the leadership of acting Director Mick Mulvaney, who also serves as the White House budget director.

It marks the first time that lawmakers have used the Congressional Review Act to block a years-old agency action beyond a narrow window defined under the 1996 law. It’s also noteworthy because the CFPB action Continue reading “House votes to kill CFPB auto-lending guidelines”

Ryan touts Dodd-Frank rollbacks

Retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday pledged to scale back the 2010 Dodd-Frank law in his remaining months in Congress.

The House is considering legislation passed by the Senate that would roll back a variety of banking regulations.

"We ran on an agenda in 2016 and we’ve been executing that agenda," he said in an interview with Fox News. "We’re two-thirds of the way through getting it done into law, even within the Senate as slow as they are. We’re going to be repealing and replacing Dodd-Frank. So we’re getting a great deal done for the country."

The bipartisan Senate legislation would not repeal and replace Dodd-Frank, but would make significant changes to the law. The House last year passed more sweeping repeal legislation, known as the Financial CHOICE Act, but it failed to gain traction with any Democrats. Ryan’s spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request Continue reading “Ryan touts Dodd-Frank rollbacks”

Hensarling’s last stand: Blocking banking bill

Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling is standing in the way of President Donald Trump’s next big legislative victory.

The outgoing chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, backed by House leadership, is refusing to rubber-stamp the landmark bank deregulation bill the Senate passed Wednesday night in an overwhelming, bipartisan vote after years of work.

The White House wants a bill on Trump’s desk as soon as possible. But Hensarling warned Thursday that the House would sit on the legislation until senators agree to negotiate how to expand the package to include proposals that would benefit more sectors of the financial industry.

That’s something the lawmakers are showing no appetite for after a brutal floor debate leading up to the bill’s passage.

“Some seem to be under the impression that we are going to vote on their bill," Hensarling said. "They are under a misimpression."

Hensarling’s refusal to accept the Senate Continue reading “Hensarling’s last stand: Blocking banking bill”

Senate passes deregulation bill scaling back Dodd-Frank

The Senate today passed a wide-ranging bank deregulation bill that would scale back key parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law.

The Senate voted 67-31 to pass the bill, which had been up for debate on the Senate floor for more than a week. Sixteen Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the legislation.

The bill was the product of years of talks among Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and a core group of moderate Democrats: Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Jon Tester(D-Ind.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).

House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has pledged to put the House’s stamp on the bill, clouding the outlook for when it will become law and in what form.

Schumer struggles to quell Warren-led rebellion

Midway through Elizabeth Warren’s fire-breathing campaign to tank a bank deregulation bill backed by more than a dozen Senate Democrats, Chuck Schumer invited her to his office.

Warren had just sent a fundraising email blasting fellow Democrats who supported the legislation, and Senate Democrats had just had an ugly caucus meeting at which the rift over the measure was laid bare. And now Schumer wanted to hear what was on the mind of one of his most prominent senators, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

“This is what I said I was going to do,” Warren told the Senate minority leader in a lengthy conversation last Wednesday, the person said. “This is why I ran for the Senate.”

Schumer didn’t tell Warren to stop attacking the bill or to dig in. But he urged her to focus her opposition on the bill’s policies — not individual Democratic Continue reading “Schumer struggles to quell Warren-led rebellion”

Senate banking bill rewards Equifax despite privacy breaches

Equifax’s role in the biggest consumer data breach in U.S. history isn’t stopping Congress from giving the giant credit reporting company sweeping protection from lawsuits while allowing it to expand its offerings into the mortgage business.

Those favors for Equifax and its peers in the credit reporting industry are among the surprise provisions in a major banking and financial deregulation bill that the Senate is set to pass this week.

The changes, made public only last Wednesday, are providing new ammunition to critics of the banking legislation, which would scale back regulations imposed after the 2008 financial crisis. Congress has yet to pass any laws creating stiffer penalties for companies like Equifax, whose security practices allowed hackers to steal highly sensitive data on as many as 148 million U.S. customers last year.

"This is the credit reporting agencies, one of whom caused more than half of the U. Continue reading “Senate banking bill rewards Equifax despite privacy breaches”

Warren slams senators for backing bank deregulation bill

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday blasted Republicans and fellow Democrats for backing a sweeping rollback of banking regulations that the Senate will likely pass as soon as this week.

Lawmakers will vote to begin debate on the legislation on the Senate floor later this morning, a move that will expose a long-simmering rift over banking industry oversight that has divided Democrats since the financial crisis.

Warren tried to take control of the debate with a Tuesday morning press conference in which she outlined plans to fight the White House-backed legislation, including proposed amendments that will pose tough votes for moderate Democrats who want to pass the underlying bill.

She said Democrats and Republicans were backing the legislation because of years of sustained bank lobbying in the wake of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, the landmark law that strengthened banking oversight in the wake of the Wall Street meltdown.

"The Continue reading “Warren slams senators for backing bank deregulation bill”

Victory in sight for Democrats defying Warren on bank bill

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate are poised to pass a bill this week that would relax key banking regulations, steamrolling opposition from outspoken liberals like Sen. Elizabeth Warren who have built their careers calling for tougher oversight of Wall Street.

A core group of moderate Democrats is brushing off an escalating opposition campaign by the Massachusetts senator and other progressives like Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, instead joining with GOP colleagues to reverse restrictions on large and small banks that were enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown.

For the bill’s supporters, the legislation is a chance to show voters that it’s still possible to get things done in an often paralyzed Congress. They include at least 12 Democrats, several of whom face tough reelection campaigns in states that President Donald Trump won in 2016.

"I hope that our bipartisan work can rub off on the rest Continue reading “Victory in sight for Democrats defying Warren on bank bill”

A decade after meltdown, Senate moves to roll back bank rules

U.S. senators are planning to mark the 10th anniversary of Wall Street’s meltdown this year with a gift to the nation’s banks: a bill that would unravel regulations put in place after the crisis.

The proposed rollback of some key post-crisis rules – which could advance in the coming weeks – is one of the few examples of bipartisanship in Washington since President Donald Trump’s election.

Yet the bill is driving a wedge between Democrats and threatening to magnify the party’s divisions as it fights to win back Congress this year.

On one side are moderate Democrats such as Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester from Republican-leaning states who support the legislation because they say it will provide relief to small and regional banks and boost rural economies.

On the other are progressives like Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown and their activist allies, who argue that the bill will Continue reading “A decade after meltdown, Senate moves to roll back bank rules”

How the banks won over Washington again

Less than a decade after being blamed for fueling the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, banks are winning again in Washington.

The rebound for the lenders has been so remarkable that Republicans and Democrats in Congress are pushing to scale back financial regulations imposed in the wake of the meltdown — one of the few areas where the two parties agree.

President Donald Trump, who once vowed not to let Wall Street “get away with murder,” has dropped the demonizing campaign rhetoric and recruited industry veterans to his administration. His Treasury Department has drawn up a series of recommendations for trimming the post-crisis rule book. Even the Federal Reserve, the top banking regulator, is working to relax safeguards.

Lawmakers and regulators are rethinking policies including loosening mortgage protections, curtailing so-called stress tests that gauge how banks would fare during economic turmoil, and simplifying capital requirements for smaller lenders. Continue reading “How the banks won over Washington again”

GOP defectors block Trump nominee to head Ex-Im Bank

Two Senate Republicans joined with Democrats on Tuesday to block the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Export-Import Bank, a rare rejection of a Trump appointee by members of his own party and prominent business groups.

The outcome had been building for months after the White House and the nominee, former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), failed to win over lawmakers who were suspicious of why Garrett would want to lead an agency that he tried to shut down when he served in Congress.

Garrett went down in a 13-10 vote by the Senate Banking Committee. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) voted against him.

“We need to both reform the Export-Import Bank and ensure it continues to function as an important tool for American businesses," Scott said. "Given Mr. Garrett’s long history opposing the Ex-Im Bank, I believe it Continue reading “GOP defectors block Trump nominee to head Ex-Im Bank”

Trump Ex-Im Bank nominee will likely be blocked

Scott Garrett, President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Export-Import Bank, will likely be blocked by bipartisan opposition after he struggled to convince lawmakers that he should run an agency he once tried to kill in Congress.

Garrett’s fate was all but sealed Tuesday when Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said he would oppose the former congressman’s confirmation when it comes up for a vote at the Senate Banking Committee on Dec. 19. The panel has 12 Republicans and 11 Democrats, and all the Democrats are expected to oppose Garrett.

"I believe him to be a proponent of the abolition of the bank rather than a reformer of the bank," Rounds told POLITICO. "I’m looking for reformers, not abolitionists."

Rounds had raised concerns that small contractors in his state could be hurt if their larger customers lost access to financing. U.S. companies rely on the agency to Continue reading “Trump Ex-Im Bank nominee will likely be blocked”

Trump nominates Fed critic to board

President Donald Trump on Wednesday nominated economist Marvin Goodfriend to serve as a Federal Reserve governor, in his latest move to reshape the central bank.

Goodfriend, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has been critical of the Fed’s response to the 2008 financial crisis and has said its monetary policy moves should be more open to scrutiny by Congress.

One leading lawmaker who has sought to rein in the Fed, House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), praised Goodfriend as an "impeccable conservative."

Earlier this month, Trump tapped Fed Gov. Jerome Powell to succeed Janet Yellen as chair, and he previously named Randal Quarles as the lead official responsible for overseeing the banking industry.

The Senate confirmed Quarles to the post last month and is now vetting Powell’s nomination.

Goodfriend’s appointment had been expected for several months.

In October, a coalition of progressive groups called on senators to oppose Continue reading “Trump nominates Fed critic to board”

Democrats split over support for GOP-led bank bill

A Republican-led proposal to roll back banking regulations is drawing support across party lines in the Senate, building momentum for the biggest rewrite of financial rules in years and setting the stage for a showdown among Democrats.

In an unusual development, nine Democrats — enough needed to pass the bill with Republicans in the months to come — are co-sponsoring the package, which would scale back rules for many banks.

The legislation was negotiated by Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) with a group of red-state Democrats who have been working for years to ease regulations that they say are stifling lending.

They are pushing ahead despite opposition from liberal lawmakers, including two prominent finance industry critics — Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the top Democrat on the Banking Committee, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has attracted a massive following by attacking Wall Street. Brown and Warren argue Continue reading “Democrats split over support for GOP-led bank bill”

House passes flood insurance renewal in wake of massive storms

House Republicans overcame bipartisan opposition Tuesday to pass a bill that would reauthorize and overhaul the National Flood Insurance Program, which has strained to pay out billions of dollars to policyholders after this year’s run of devastating hurricanes.

The House passed the bill in a 237-189 vote following months of debate and dealmaking over how much to scale back the primary tool that millions of homeowners rely on to protect themselves from the financial risks of flooding.

The bill would reauthorize the NFIP for five years and enact several operational changes championed by Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the fiscal conservative who led an effort to pare back the program as part of the reauthorization bill.

During the process, Hensarling clashed with influential business groups and coastal Republicans who argued that his committee’s proposals threatened homeowners and local economies.

After agreeing to a series of concessions going back to Continue reading “House passes flood insurance renewal in wake of massive storms”