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DIGGING IN:  President Trump shows no signs of backing down on his proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum despite internal and external efforts to sway his current direction. With House Speaker Paul Ryan leading the charge, a chorus of Congressional Republicans is mounting a campaign to change Trump’s mindset citing damage to a robust U.S. economy, job losses and, lest we forget, mid-term losses should he follow through with his actions. Ryan is joined at the hip by National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn who is said to be assembling executives from companies who stand to be adversely impacted from tariffs on steel and aluminum for a meeting with Trump at the White House on Thursday. Efforts are also underway on Capitol Hill to counter Trump's move with legislation - although we currently view that as a long shot. Our deeper dive on the state of play for tariffs and Section 232 here.

BANK SHOT: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has teed up cloture on Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo’s (R-ID) bipartisan agreement with moderate Committee Democrats to amend Dodd-Frank and provide relief to certain financial institutions. The bill, S. 2155, would raise the asset threshold for systemically important financial institution (SIFI) designation from $50 billion to $250 billion, and immediately end stricter oversight for institutions with less than $100 billion, among other reforms. The bill has garnered support from 13 Democrats, and currently has the votes to pass. However, the measure could be subject to floor amendments, and we expect a number of Democrats led by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who oppose the bill to introduce amendments. Crapo is expected to incorporate a number of bipartisan House-passed measures in a Manager’s Amendment, which could set the stage for an expeditious process by which the Senate will conference its regulatory reform bill with the Financial Choice Act passed by the House in June. 

THROW MISSISSIPPI INTO THE MIX: We wrote a snippet last week amidst the tariff turmoil about all of changing dynamics taking place in various Senate races across the country. Now add Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) to the mix. Citing health reasons, the ailing Cochran will resign from the Senate on April 1, triggering two races for the U.S. Senate in Mississippi come November.  Republican Governor Phil Bryant will choose an interim Senator and that appointee or Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) will face a challenge from conservative firebrand State Senator Chris McDaniel.  Both seats are expected to remain in Republican hands, but party leaders fear McDaniel could upend that objective.

TODAY: TELECOM + MEDIA POLICY CALL | HANDICAPPING THE AT+T/TIME WARNER MERGER TRIAL (T, TWX): Join Telecom and Media Senior Analyst Paul Glenchur today as has he provides investors with the essential “Playbook” going into the 3/19 trial to kick off coverage from inside the Court. Find the call information here.

CALL REPLAY | IT IS A BRAVE NEW WORLD: POPULISM & TRUMP DRUG PRICING AND APPROVAL POLICY: Listen to our healthcare team discuss 2018 drug policy shifts including changes to Part B and D; opioid lawsuit and more.  Find the replay here.


ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS; FY18/19 DEFENSE BUDGET WILL BE HIGH WATER MARK: General Emo Gardner writes that FY18 Pentagon spending will be up 10.7% y/y at ~$671B and FY19 will +2.9% from there but growth in FY20 and beyond looks grim. His latest piece here.

ENERGY POLICY | VENEZUELA POLITICAL UPDATEReplay of Joe McMonigle's call with Dr. Francisco Monaldi, a Fellow in the Latin American Initiative and Energy Economics at the Baker Institute at Rice University on the latest situation on the ground in Venezuela as well as the developing White House announcement of possible new sanctions. You can access it here.