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Senate Transportation Bill Hits Speed Bump

Sen. Mitch McConnell announces bipartisan transportation bill with a patchwork of new revenue streams. NYT: “… the measure would spend more than $300 billion on infrastructure over six years … Tax law compliance changes would crack down on rich families who fudge the value of property inheritances to dodge estate taxes. The government would be allowed to deny or revoke passports for people with more than $50,000 in unpaid taxes. Private debt collection agencies would be empowered to bring in an estimated $2.4 billion over the next decade…”

But initial procedural vote hits filibuster. Roll Call: “Minority Leader Harry Reid and [bill co-sponsor Sen. Barbara] Boxer had called for a delay so Democrats could read the mammoth bill, and senators blocked bringing it up, 41-56 vote … McConnell said the Senate would have to be in session this weekend in an effort to complete the highway bill before the August recess…”

McConnell may schedule another vote for today. Politico: “Democrats are set to meet at noon Wednesday to plan their next move …”

Compromise faces “many obstacles” reports The Hill: “…$2.3 billion [would be raised] by blocking Social Security payments to individuals with felony warrants … Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) raised reservations about the Social Security language … Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) objected to the [Federal Reserve] dividend rate cut … Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) objects to using the petroleum reserve as an offset…”

Banks don’t like Fed cut. The Hill: “Currently, banks must purchase stock at the Federal Reserve in order to become a member. But they receive a 6 percent interest rate on their investment. McConnell and Boxer want to slash that rate to 1.5 percent for banks that have more than $1 billion in consolidated assets, while keeping the 6 percent interest rate for banks under the $1 billion threshold…”

Politico’s Michael Grunwald explores what our transportation money gets spent on: “… we spend more than five times as many federal dollars on roads as we spend on public transit. We spend more building new road capacity than we spend fixing existing roads … But most of our transportation choices aren’t made in Washington. Congress is mostly a pass-through, funneling cash to states with relatively few strings attached.”

Clock Ticks On Shutdown

Only 18 legislative working days until government could shut down. The Hill: “[Rep. Nita] Lowey warned ‘zero of the 12 [spending] bills’ Republicans have marked up and passed through committee ‘can and will be enacted into law’ because they adhere to sequestration spending caps … Democrats have demanded for months that Republicans come to the negotiating table … but GOP leaders have so far rejected their requests.”

Senate committee passes tax break package. The Hill: “…lawmakers insisted they don’t want to wait until year’s end to restore a group of incentives that historically has had bipartisan support. [But Sen. Orrin] Hatch sounded skeptical after the markup that the package of tax breaks could be added to the Senate’s highway bill.”

Jeb Hypocritical On Lobbying

“Jeb Bush Speech Denouncing Lobbyists Was Organized By Corporate Lobbying Group” reports International Business Times: “[Bush] derided what he called the capital city’s ‘comfortable establishment’ that leverages lobbying power to unduly shape public policy … Bush was touting his clean-government credentials at a function organized by the Florida Chamber of Commerce [which] spent nearly $200,000 lobbying Florida lawmakers last year.”

“Gov. John Kasich makes a strong case for the teleprompter” says W. Post’s Chris Cillizza: “Kasich rambled through a 45-minute [announcement] speech [that] never seemed to coalesce into any sort of coherent takeaway or message.”

GOP Targets Dodd-Frank

Republicans try attaching Dodd-Frank rollback to spending bill. The Hill: “Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) will likely include [Sen. Richard] Shelby’s proposal … that is slated for a Wednesday mark-up … The bill would allow for more community and regional banks to be excluded from regulations that are part of Dodd-Frank, while aiming to provide regulatory relief for businesses.”

Former WH economist Jared Bernstein backs financial transaction tax in NYT oped: “Senator Bernie Sanders [proposes a] small excise tax, typically a few hundredths of a percent, on trades of stocks, bonds, derivatives and other securities. An itty-bitty, one-basis-point transaction tax … would raise $185 billion over 10 years … That would be enough to finance an ambitious expansion of prekindergarten programs for 3- and 4-year-olds and restore funding of college assistance for low-income students.”

Former Rep. Barney Frank opposes restoration of Glass-Steagall. The Hill: “‘Even if we did Glass-Steagall, you’d still have institutions that are too big to fail,’ Frank said … during an economic forum hosted by center-left think tank Third Way.”

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