TenCount -> Wednesday a bill to overhaul the nation’s tax code

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TenCount -> Wednesday a bill to overhaul the nation’s tax code

A highly selective view of events in the week ahead with important financial, legislative and political implications, put together by your friends at Sphere Consulting.

  • Happy Eve of All Hallow’s Eve! For those in Washington who don’t find ghosts and goblins scary enough, there’s Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. CNN reported that a federal grand jury approved the first charges in the investigation on Friday, though the indictment was kept under seal by a federal judge. A defendant could be taken into custody as soon as today. Bets, anyone?
  • Republicans have vowed to introduce by Wednesday a bill to overhaul the nation’s tax code and have said that they hope to pass tax legislation before Thanksgiving – an enormously aggressive timeline that gives members only 22 days to consider the most important and far-reaching action of the 115th Congress. Complaints that congressional leaders failed to follow “regular order” in bringing an Obamacare-repeal bill to a vote doomed that measure; could a similar rush-job sink tax reform? On Friday, Politico will host an interview of Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
  • President Trump will embark on a 12-day trip to Asia on Friday, the longest sojourn of his presidency to date, visiting Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Much of the attention on the trip will focus, however, on a country that Trump won’t be visiting – North Korea. The White House said the trip “will strengthen the international resolve to confront the North Korean threat.” The president will attend two trade conferences but skip a strategic meeting known as the East Asia Summit, which features 18 nations including Russian, India, Australia and China. The Center for Strategic and International Studies conducts a briefing on the trip Tuesday.
  • Uh-oh. Defense Secretary James Mattis, visiting South Korea on Saturday, said the threat of a nuclear attack by North Korea “has accelerated” and reiterated that the U.S. will never accept North Korea as a nuclear power. That is certain to be a topic of conversation on Monday, when Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to testify on the administration’s perspective on “The Authorizations for the Use of Military Force.”
  • On Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee takes its own look at the North Korea situation with a hearing titled “An Insider’s Look at the North Korea Regime,”which will feature testimony from a high-ranking North Korean defector: Thae Yong-ho, a former Deputy Chief of Mission at North Korea’s Embassy in the U.K. A day earlier, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts an invitation-only event featuring Mr. Thae.
  • True words: “People are anxiously awaiting my decision as to who the next head of the Fed” will be, President Trump said, adding that he expects to announce the pick this week. As it turns out, the Fed’s Open Market Committee convenes Tuesday and Wednesday to survey the state of the economy and mull interest rates. No press conference is scheduled, making it less likely that the Fed will increase rates immediately.
  • One of the week’s more lively hearings on the Hill promises to occur on Wednesdaymorning, when the Senate Banking Committee considers the nomination of Scott Garrett, a former Republican House member from New Jersey, to be the president of the Export-Import Bank. That would be the institution that Mr. Garrett spent considerable time trying to kill while a member of Congress. The Senator to watch during the hearing, which also will consider the nominations of five other Ex-Im Bank officials, will be South Carolina’s Tim Scott, a Republican in whose home state reside major supporters of the bank like Boeing and General Electric. Republicans enjoy a single-vote majority on the committee.
  • Hurricane season is winding down – thank goodness – but the post-mortems continue on the federal response to the disasters. This week, four hearings: Senate Homeland Security on Tuesday and House Homeland Security on Wednesday, both featuring FEMA Administrator Brock Long; on Thursday the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee looks at “Central Takeaways From the Unprecedented 2017 Hurricane Season” at the same time that House Energy and Commerce reviews “Emergency Response and Energy Infrastructure Recovery Efforts.”
  • Along with the unsealing of the indictment this week, the Russia probe continues, with Carter Page, who advised the Trump campaign on Russia, scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday during what the committee calls “an open hearing in a closed space” – an unclassified briefing that nevertheless has no press or public present, though a transcript might be available later. Page met behind closed doors with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday for more than five hours, indicating he must have been willing to answer a fair number of the committee’s questions.
  • Social media takes the spotlight as officials from Google, Facebook and Twitter head to the Hill for other Russia- and election-related hearings. On Tuesday, Senate Judiciary hosts “Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online;” on Wednesday, it’s both Senate Intelligence with a hearing on “Social Media Influence in the 2016 U.S. Elections” and House Intelligence with “Russia Investigative Task Force Hearing with Social Media Companies.” 

    Founded in 2006, Sphere Consulting is an international public affairs firm providing clients with creative, effective, and timely solutions.  Our work spans the globe and all industry sectors with a focus on the implementation of strategic campaigns to deliver your media and government relations needs.

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