TenCount -> Is a White House shakeup on the way – Congress settled the budget crisis

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TenCount -> Is a White House shakeup on the way – Congress settled the budget crisis

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.

  • Good morning! Is a White House shakeup on the way? The West Wing’s handling last week of two staffers who were accused of domestic abuse had the Sunday talk shows in a tizzy over whether Chief of Staff John Kelly or others would bear the brunt of President Trump’s displeasure at the situation. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that President Trump was asking friends for their thinking on Kelly’s performance and potential replacements.
  • President Trump, through Kellyanne Conway, expressed “full faith” in Kelly, adding that the president is “not actively searching for replacements.” So while Kelly’s job appeared safe through the weekend, questions remain about the temporary security clearance of now-former aide Rob Porter and his access to classified materials. In fact, 30 to 40 administration officials, including Jared Kushner, still lack a full security clearance, according to CNN.
  • Congress settled the budget crisis last week, passing an expensive new spending package that should get the Treasury through the remainder of the fiscal year and set the stage for the 2019 budget, which President Trump is scheduled to unveil today. That budget essentially gives up on the longtime Republican goal of eliminating the budget deficit. It will include $200 billion in infrastructure funding over 10 years, which the White House expects will stimulate cities and states to raise their contributions toward a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package. On Tuesday, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney will tell the Senate Budget Committee what’s in store, while on Wednesday the Senate Finance Committee will hear from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services also will be under the budget spotlight on Thursday, when newly appointed HHS Secretary Alex Azar II appears before the Senate Finance Committee in the morning. Later in the day, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will conduct an oversight hearing of the agency, now headed by a former pharmaceutical industry executive who oversaw years of drug price increases. Secretary Azar’s mandate from President Trump: “Get those prescription drug prices way down.”
  • Financial markets start what is expected to be another volatile week today after stocks lost more than 5 percent of their value last week. Investors withdrew more than $22 billion from U.S. equity funds during the tumult, which included the highest level of market volatility in three years. Even Bitcoin investors found no respite; the value of the cryptocurrency has fallen by more than 50 percent since the end of last year.
  • Expect plenty of questions about Bitcoin and other electronic currencies on Thursday, when J. Christopher Giancarlo, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, appears before the Senate Agriculture Committee for a hearing on the State of the CFTC. Blockchain, the technology underlying Bitcoin, also will be scrutinized Wednesday by an Oversight panel of the House Science Committee. And today, AEI hosts a forum on “Cryptocurrencies and blockchain: Techno-gold or fool’s gold?”
  • The Senate is expected to begin debate late Monday on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the immigration program that provided safe havens for millions of immigrants brought to this country illegally as children by their parents. Also on the docket are changes in border security that President Trump says will be required for him to sign a bill extending DACA. Unlike most Senate debate, this round will take place without a prepared piece of legislation in place.
  • The tumbleweeds rolling through the hallways of the Federal Trade Commissioncould soon get swept away. The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday will conduct a hearing on nominees for four of the five seats on the commission, including a proposed chairman. For months, the FTC has been operating with just two commissioners, both of whose appointments have expired. If approved by the Senate, the new slate will give the commission a solid Republican majority.
  • In a rare open hearing on Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee will take a look at “worldwide threats,” hosting the Director of National Intelligence and the chiefs of all the country’s major spy agencies – CIA, NSA, FBI, DIA and others. Then on Wednesday, a panel of the Senate Armed Services Committee plays host to the military brass to examine the “Current Readiness of U.S. Forces.”
  • Oral arguments are still two weeks away in one of the Supreme Court’s biggest cases of the winter term, Janus v. American Federation, which will look at whether public-sector workers can be forced to pay union fees. But the case is generating intense interest because of its potential effect on the financial health of organized labor, and on Thursday the Cato Institute conducts a preview of the case, which could overturn a 40-year-old precedent.
    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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