FIX THE NICS: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is putting his weight behind a stronger, bipartisan background check measure sponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chris Murphy (D-CT). Democrats are calling for stiffer gun control legislation, but we think the Cornyn/Murphy effort giving state and local government’s incentives to submit information to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) is about as far as the Senate will go at this juncture. The House passed a related measure in 2017, but with it concealed carry language allowing permit holders to cross state lines. That’s a non-starter in the Senate and deleting that provision shouldn’t be an impediment to taking the first step and getting something done on this critical issue.
MULVANEY’S MISSION: Defined. Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney said the agency’s mission will be “mild” and won’t be “pushing the envelope” when it comes to the agency’s enforcement capabilities. Mulvaney insisted that the agency will continue to go after bad players in the financial services industry. But their approach will be quite different than the last Administration promising the CFPB is “still going to be regulating and still trying to protect consumers” while he continuing his unabated march to dial back the overreach of Richard Cordray. Good thing he cleared that up.
ON SECOND THOUGHT: Treasury Secretary Steve Mncuhin is indicating that there might be a change of heart on rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement President Trump pulled out of in his first weeks in office. At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce yesterday, Mnuchin said that “it’s not a priority at the moment, but it’s something the president will consider” – but time is not on the Trump Administration’s side with the deal slated to be signed in Chile on March 8 - not to mention the fact that the countries currently headed to the signing table are not wholeheartedly embracing the re-entry of U.S.into the mix at the 11th hour.
ONLINE SALES TAX DEBATE RESURFACING: Congresswoman Kristi Neems (R-SD) is not waiting for the Supreme Court to consider arguments with regard to online sales taxes on April 17 with a likely ruling months later when SCOTUS wraps up for the summer. Neems is pushing her Remote Transactions Parity Act giving “states more power to force out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes” and emphasizing the need to have legislation in place in the event SCOTUS shuts down the existing Quill ruling. Neems is unlikely to get much air (or floor) time on her measure as many in Congress, and her own party, are more than happy to let SCOTUS rule first - forcing their hands later.
MACRO POLICY CALL REPLAY | WHAT'S NEXT FOR NAFTA?: Listen to a replay of yesterday's NAFTA call covering the major issues, timelines, and impact on industries with one of Washington's top trade advisors here.
ENERGY POLICY CALL CONFERENCE CALL | THURSDAY MARCH 1 AT 2 PM: The Trump Administration is developing potential new energy sanctions on Venezuela as Maduro plans April 22 presidential election. Find Thursday's call details here.
OUR HEALTH CARE TEAM HOSTED A CALL ON THE STATUS OF THE PENDING $10B VA EHR MODERNIZATION CONTRACT: With Cerner (CERN) and the VA agreeing to terms on interoperability, the highly anticipated deal could be signed any day now. Emily Evans and Andrew Freedman discussed the path forward, which is rife with political landmines, and what it means to Cerner's stock price. Catch the replay here.
DEFENSE POLICY CALL REPLAY | GOOD START BUT JUST A START: If you missed General Emo Gardner's comprehensive overview and analysis of the Pentagon's FY19 budget submission, you can access it here.
HEDGEYE LEGAL CATALYSTS | SUPREME COURT CRITICAL OF AMEX MERCHANT AGREEMENTS (AXP, DFS, AMZN, GOOGL): Several Court members hint that AmEx anti-steering agreements raise major antitrust concerns. A decision by end of June. Paul Glenchurs note from inside the Supreme Court here.
WHITE HOUSE MEETING ON POSSIBLE RINS/ETHANOL REFORMS: After Philadelphia Refinery Bankruptcy, Trump Administration Develops Urgent Policy Options to Rein in High RINS Costs. Read Joe McMonigle's note here.