Anthrax scare forces evacuation of building housing Waters’ L.A. office

A building that houses the Los Angeles office of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) was partially evacuated Tuesday after receiving a suspicious package addressed to "Anne Thrax," according to the local fire department.

One person came in contact with the package and had no medical complaints, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in an incident report on its web site. Only affected portions of the two-story building were evacuated, the LAFD said.

Officials determined there was no hazard, the fire department said.

Spokespeople for Waters did not respond to requests for comment.

Waters has faced threats since calling on supporters last month to confront Trump administration officials in public in response to the separation of parents and children at the border. She is one of President Donald Trump’s fiercest critics and has called for his impeachment.

Trump nominee assailed at hearing as unfit to lead consumer bureau

Kathy Kraninger, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, faced withering criticism on Thursday from Democrats, who repeatedly charged that she was unqualified to lead the powerful agency.

With her confirmation already resting on a tight margin, Kraninger drew no words of support from any Democrat during a nearly three-hour confirmation hearing, which Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) called “intense.”

Kraninger, who has worked as a congressional aide and at the departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, has a short paper trail and no clear experience in financial policy. The bureau’s critics see her nomination as a way to keep acting Director Mick Mulvaney, her boss at the Office of Management and Budget, in the loop at the CFPB.

With no consumer protection record to attack, Democrats homed in on Kraninger’s position as an associate OMB director overseeing the agencies responsible for the controversial Continue reading “Trump nominee assailed at hearing as unfit to lead consumer bureau”

Waters scares Democrats with call for all-out war on Trump

Rep. Maxine Waters has won over a whole new generation of adoring fans in the Trump era who have rechristened the Los Angeles Democrat as the Resistance hero “Auntie Maxine.”

But with her constant calls for President Donald Trump to be impeached — and her comments this weekend urging Democrats to challenge Cabinet members when they see them in public — Waters is making even members of her own party anxious.

She urged her supporters at a rally to confront administration officials face-to-face in response to the separation of parents and children at the border. That was after a Virginia restaurant refused to serve White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and protesters confronted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during a dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Washington last week.

"If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you Continue reading “Waters scares Democrats with call for all-out war on Trump”

Banks take on Sessions over legalized pot

The nation’s banks are taking on Attorney General Jeff Sessions over pot with a big lobbying push to loosen federal restrictions on the surging legalized marijuana industry.

Emboldened by support from both President Donald Trump and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — two relentless foes on most other issues — top banking trade groups are pressing policymakers to make it easier for their members to serve cannabis businesses that are now legal in states like California and Colorado.

“If we’re not at a turning point, we’re very close to it,” said Cam Fine, the former head of the Independent Community Bankers of America trade association.

Even Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, is pushing for action on the issue.

“This is a very difficult area,” Powell said during a press conference this week. “It puts federally chartered banks in a very difficult situation. It would be great if that Continue reading “Banks take on Sessions over legalized pot”

House sends major bank bill to Trump, capping years of effort

The House on Tuesday sent a milestone bank deregulation bill to President Donald Trump for his signature, delivering a victory to lenders that spent years fighting to roll back rules enacted in the wake of the 2008 Wall Street meltdown.

The House passed the bill in a 258-159 vote with support from almost all Republicans but only 33 Democrats.

The bill would rewrite some key parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, a signature piece of Obama-era legislation that ratcheted up regulation of the banking industry in response to the financial crisis.

The bill’s opponents warned that the effort would put consumers in harm’s way and wasn’t necessary at a time when the industry is drumming up record profits. But a bipartisan group of lawmakers backing the bill argued that it would make it easier for banks to lend and would adjust regulations to fit the risks posed by lenders of Continue reading “House sends major bank bill to Trump, capping years of effort”

Trump signs bill blocking consumer bureau auto-lending measure

President Donald Trump today signed legislation that will undo a 2013 effort by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to discourage discrimination in auto lending.

Guidelines issued by the consumer bureau outlined steps that lenders should take to address discrimination by auto dealers, who often determine the terms for car loans that they help facilitate for their customers.

With the backing of auto dealers and lenders, Republicans who drove the rollback argued that the CFPB should have followed formal rulemaking procedures and sought more public feedback before issuing the guidelines. The 2010 Dodd-Frank law prohibits the bureau from regulating auto dealers. The CFPB guidance was addressed to lenders that fall under the bureau’s jurisdiction.

CFPB acting Director Mick Mulvaney praised the move to rescind what he called a "misguided" initiative by his predecessor, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama.

"I am heartened that the people, through their elected representatives, Continue reading “Trump signs bill blocking consumer bureau auto-lending measure”

Trump wounds but can’t kill Obama’s Wall Street rules

President Donald Trump has made it his mission to undo as much of Barack Obama’s legacy as he can. But when it comes to dismantling his predecessor’s biggest legislative achievements, he’s 0-2 so far.

Trump tried and failed repeatedly last year to repeal Obamacare. Now, Obama’s landmark law regulating Wall Street is emerging largely intact from the gauntlet of a Republican-controlled Congress.

Congress is expected to send to Trump’s desk this week a bank deregulation bill rolling back several pieces of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which imposed sweeping new rules on banks in the wake of the financial crisis.

But despite Trump’s promises to “do a big number” on Dodd-Frank, the bipartisan bill that is likely to be approved by the House as early as Tuesday leaves many of the Republicans’ most-hated provisions of the law in place, including the foundations of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the government’s Continue reading “Trump wounds but can’t kill Obama’s Wall Street rules”

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”