2019年2月12日 星期二

On The Money: Lawmakers wait for Trump verdict on border deal | Trump touts deal as offering $23B for security | McConnell presses Trump to sign off | National debt tops $22T | Watchdog details IRS shutdown woes

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Happy Tuesday 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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Write us with tips, suggestions and news: slane@thehill.com, vneedham@thehill.com, njagoda@thehill.com and nelis@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @SylvanLane, @VickofTheHill, @NJagoda and @NivElis.


THE BIG DEAL--Trump criticizes border wall deal: 'Can't say I'm happy'  President Trump on Tuesday knocked a bipartisan deal to avert a government shutdown, but suggested he could still get his long-desired border wall built and expressed confidence the government would remain open.

"I'm not happy about it. It's not doing the trick," Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

"I'm adding things to it, and when you add whatever I have to add, it's all going to happen where we're going to build a beautiful, big, strong wall," the president continued.

Update: This evening. Trump appeared to signal more openness to the deal, suggesting that the funds it allocated could be combined with other funding to build his border wall.

"Looking over all aspects knowing that this will be hooked up with lots of money from other sources," Trump tweeted. "Will be getting almost $23 BILLION for Border Security. Regardless of Wall money, it is being built as we speak!"

The stakes:

  • The government will enter another partial shutdown on Saturday if Trump does not sign the agreement struck by Capitol Hill negotiators Monday and contains but a small portion of the money he demanded for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Trump's comments added fresh uncertainty to the emerging compromise, which must be signed into law by midnight Friday. Roughly one quarter of the federal government, including the Department of Homeland Security, will shut down for the second time this year if the deal fails.

The details:

  • The proposal would provide $1.375 billion in funding for roughly 55 miles of new barriers along the southern border, well short of the $5.7 billion Trump demanded.
  • The deal also includes an increase in spending for the Department of Homeland Security and a decrease in the number of beds at border detention facilities.
  • A congressional aide said the deal included 40,520 ICE detention beds. But senior congressional aides argued that the tentative agreement included "enough flexibility to reach the president's requested level of 52,000 beds."

Trump's next move: Trump has said that he plans to tap pre-existing sources of funding to build his wall one way or another, potentially giving him an out to sign the deal. But for now Washington is waiting for his decision.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday he has already found funds in other accounts that could be repurposed for wall construction. But Mulvaney did not identify specific sources.

And Trump is facing plenty of pressure from GOP lawmakers to avoid another costly, politically unpopular shutdown.

  • "I told the president I thought he, as well as all of us, ought to wait until we've actually read the final deal. I have recommended that if it becomes what we think it is, I do recommend he sign it," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
  • "I think the experience is sufficient to show them this does no good at all," said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
  • "I think this thing's a long way from being over. Nobody should start humming 'One Shining Moment' yet," said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), referring to the Luther Vandross song that is played on television at the end of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
  • "You have to remember where [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi [(D-Calif.)] was -- she who said no money for a wall. That's not the case," said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. "The Democrats have now agreed to more than 55 miles of new barrier being built."

Conservatives talking heads pressure Trump: Trump, though, is facing pressure from conservatives who say the deal is not good enough. Fox News host Sean Hannity said Monday night that "any Republican that supports this garbage compromise... will have to explain," their decision. Conservative commentator Ann Coulter said Trump was "afraid" to fight for a border wall and called the agreement his "Yellow New Deal."



Trump open to extending trade talks with China: President Trump said Tuesday that he's open to extending the March 1 deadline for increasing tariffs on China if the two sides are close to a comprehensive trade deal.

"So far I've said, 'Don't do that.' Now, if we're close to a deal where we think we can make a real deal and it's going to get done, I could see myself letting that slide for a little while," Trump told reporters at a Cabinet meeting.

"But generally speaking I'm not inclined to do that," he added.

  • Negotiators have until the beginning of next month to reach a comprehensive trade agreement, at which point the U.S. has said it will increase its tariffs on Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent.
  • The two sides have been locked in an escalating trade war for months, levying tit-for-tat duties on the other's products.
  • Top U.S. trade officials, including U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, are in Beijing this week to hold negotiations with their Chinese counterparts.


Federal debt surpasses $22 trillion for first time: The gross national debt has surpassed $22 trillion for the first time in the U.S. history, according to Treasury Department data released Tuesday.

"This milestone is another sad reminder of the inexcusable tab our nation's leaders continue to run up and will leave for the next generation," said Judd Gregg and Edward Rendell, co-chairman of the debt watchdog group Campaign to Fix the Debt.

Deficits have soared under President Trump, spurned on by the GOP tax law, bipartisan spending increases, and the forward momentum of mandatory spending programs such as Medicare and Social Security. Tuesday's estimate put the total outstanding public debt at $22.013 trillion. The Hill's Niv Elis breaks down the numbers here.


Watchdog details IRS issues from shutdown: The IRS faces a number of challenges as a result of the recent 35-day government shutdown, including a backlog of correspondences and a decline in the level of service on its telephone lines, the agency's in-house watchdog said in a report released Tuesday.

"The five weeks could not have come at a worse time for the IRS -- facing its first filing season implementing a massive new tax law, with a completely restructured tax form," National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson wrote in her annual report to Congress.

"The IRS is entering the filing season inundated with correspondence, phone calls, and inventories of unresolved prior year audits and identity theft cases."

Some of those issues:

  • On Jan. 24, the day before the shutdown ended, the IRS had more than 5 million pieces of mail that hadn't been processed, 80,000 responses to fiscal 2018 audits of returns claiming the earned income tax credit that hadn't been addressed, and 87,000 amended tax returns that it had yet to process.
  • The IRS also experienced a backlog of orders for the W-2 and W-3 forms that employers are required to file by law by Jan. 31, leading the agency to suggest that employers consider requesting extensions, according to the report.

The Hill's Naomi Jagoda has the full story here.



  • A record 7 million Americans are at least 90 days behind on payments for automobile loans, the highest number in history according to a study released Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • A coalition of aviation trade associations and labor groups on Tuesday urged Congress to pass legislation that would allow the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to access funding in the event of a federal government shutdown.
  • White House adviser Ivanka Trump on Wednesday will meet with GOP senators to discuss bipartisan support for paid family leave legislation.
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a likely presidential candidate in 2020 and a leading liberal voice on trade issues, predicted Tuesday that President Trump's update of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will stall in Congress.



  • More than 21,000 Americans told the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) they fell victim to romance-related scams in 2018, losing a total of $143 million, the agency says.
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