Financial Services Report

Looking Ahead

Near Term

  • Despite strong rumors last week, the Financial CHOICE Act will not be on the House floor this week.   Leadership was reportedly whipping the bill last week and it now appears that the legislation will be on the floor sometime in June.
  • There are no hearings this week in the House Financial Services Committee, though Majority staff will be busy deposing a CFPB staffer.
  • The Senate Banking Committee is expected to hold an executive session on Tuesday morning to pass out a series of nominations.
  • The White House Budget for next year is expected to be released on Tuesday. 

 

Today on the Hill: Revised CBO Score of AHCA Expected Today; House Considers Rolling Back Pesticide Regs

As Washington continues to react to the publication of President Trump’s first full budget proposal, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is set to make headlines today with its revised score of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The report will detail the coverage and budgetary consequences of the changes made to the bill before it passed the House, mainly from amendments that allow states to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) essential health benefits and community rating rules. Today’s report could shape the next phase in debate over the bill as Republican senators continue to plan their own course of action in overhauling the ACA.

 

Today on the Hill: Budget Day as White House Proposes Deep Cuts to Government Programs

It’s budget day in Washington as the White House is expected to release its full spending proposal for the 2018 fiscal year. Many details of the budget have already leaked, outlining significant cuts to the Medicaid program, agriculture subsidies, and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), while continuing to increase the budget for defense and homeland security. The budget document also projects a balanced budget within 10 years, but that calculation relies upon economic growth figures that many economists believe to be unrealistic. Regardless, the budget has already been met with a cold shoulder on Capitol Hill, with Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) suggesting that the budget may be “dead on arrival” in Congress. Nevertheless, President Trump’s first full budget offers a glimpse into his Administration’s priorities in the coming years and will serve as a reference point for future spending considerations.

 

This Week on the Hill: White House Budget Due This Week as Trump Takes First International Trip; House v. Price Update; New CBO Score for AHCA

President Trump is on his first overseas trip this week – visiting the nations of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican City, and Belgium – but the White House will still make domestic headlines with the expected release of its complete budget proposal for the 2018 fiscal year. The initial “skinny budget” outlined in March detailed significant cuts to domestic discretionary programs, most notably the budgets for the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency. The full budget, expected to be released tomorrow, will spark conversations on Capitol Hill, where some Republican lawmakers have expressed skepticism of the President’s plan to drastically reduce spending on bipartisan priorities, such as the National Institutes of Health. Regardless of the President’s proposal, however, Congress is well-behind schedule on the appropriations process for the 2018 fiscal year, which will likely necessitate the use of a stopgap solution this fall.  

 

Health Policy Report

The Week in Review

Another eventful week in Washington was headlined by additional developments with the ongoing investigation into the Trump White House over its alleged connections to the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential campaign. Last week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the Bureau’s investigation. Mueller, who is considered nonpartisan by most lawmakers, will have a considerable degree of authority in carrying out the probe, including any possible laws violated by President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey earlier this month.  

 

Today on the Hill: House Votes to Enhance Probation Officer Arrest Authority; Oversight Chair Chaffetz Announces Early Departure from Congress

The Senate finished its legislative business for the week yesterday – holding a successful confirmation vote on a Justice Department official and invoking cloture on the nomination for Ambassador to China – leaving the House to complete its work today on a police-related measure. House lawmakers will consider a bill (H.R. 1039) today that would allow probation officers to arrest individuals without a warrant if there is probable cause to believe that the individual forcibly assaulted or obstructed a probation officer in the performance of their duties. There has been some opposition to the bill from both ends of the political spectrum, with civil rights and libertarian groups taking issue with the expansion of arrest authority. The bill was advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month on a 15-7 party-line vote.

 

TRP’s Shea McCarthy Discusses The Prospects of Auto-Enrollment for Individuals in Inside Health Policy

In an Inside Health Policy article published yesterday, Thorn Run Partners’ Senior Vice President Shea McCarthy weighed in the potential auto-enrollment of individuals into health plans, an idea spearheaded by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in their healthcare bill entitled The Patient Freedom Act. “Aside from helping Republicans improve the dismal coverage numbers estimated for House bill, auto-enrolling people in low-cost plans could also help keep the individual market balanced,” noted McCarthy. “Assuming some logistical concerns could be assuaged, insurance carriers would have plenty of incentive to participate in a market where the federal government were directly enrolling healthy people who might not otherwise purchase coverage — potentially reducing premiums for other enrollees. The policy could ultimately be a more powerful tool than the individual mandate to bring younger and healthier individuals into the market.” McCarthy also acknowledged that while the rollout of an auto-enrollment policy would likely be challenging, there are avenues that can be explored to make the process feasible. “States could supplement federal data by requiring residents to say whether they are insured when they pay state taxes or renew their driver’s license. The states also could allow hospitals and physicians to identify uninsured patients to be enrolled into no-premium plans.”

 

Today on the Hill: Mueller Named Special Prosecutor for Trump/Russia Investigation; Ways and Means to Hold First Tax Reform Hearing

Yesterday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named Robert Mueller, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director from 2001-2013, to be a special prosecutor on investigating ties between President Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. The news was applauded by most lawmakers on both sides, who consider Mueller to be a highly non-partisan and respected law enforcement official. President Trump responded through a White House statement last night saying that the new prosecutor will  “confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” and tweeted this morning that the ongoing investigation is “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.” While it remains unclear how Mueller will proceed with the investigation, his appointment adds legitimacy to the probe and guarantees that the issue will continue to garner attention from the press for an extended period of time.

 

Today on the Hill: New FBI Memo Adds Pressure on White House as Senate Considers DOJ Nominee

The ongoing controversy over President Trump’s firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey reignited last night after The New York Times reported that Comey had reported in an official memorandum that the President asked him to stop investigating former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Moscow. According to FBI notes – which are often considered admissible in court – President Trump spoke to Comey following a national security meeting in February saying “I hope you can let this go” in reference to the FBI’s investigation after the revelation that Flynn had previously unreported work with the Turkish and Russian governments.

 

Financial Services Report

Our Take

That sound you heard emanating from our nation’s capital last week was the collective scream of the city’s establishment trying to deal with the President’s firing of FBI Director Comey and then subsequent responses from the White House.   Without commenting on the specifics of the situation, the impact on the future of legislation remains unclear.