NOT SO FAST: After the Trump Commerce Department announced yesterday it was scaling back sanctions on Chinese telecom firm ZTE adding a $1b fine and embedding new management and compliance teams - an unlikely bipartisan duo in the Senate filed an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill (NDAA) blocking the Administration’s move. Republican Senator and Trump ally Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland introduced the amendment yesterday with the backing of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and a number of additional Senators on both sides of the aisle - including Republican Senators Marco Rubio, Susan Collins and John Kennedy. The Senate is expected to vote on the NDAA next week and Republican leaders have not yet committed to a vote on the Cotton/Van Hollen measure.
CORKER NOT BACKING DOWN: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) filed legislation that would increase congressional oversight of tariffs being applied in the context of national security. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Whip John Cornyn are balking at bringing up legislation like Corker's as a standalone measure but said it was possible that a senator might try to attach it to another measure, such as the NDAA. Trump asked Corker and his growing bipartisan list of allies to rescind the measure and Corker is not backing down. The odds of passing Corker’s measure in the Senate are currently low given both leadership’s opposition to the measure as well as requiring 60 votes in that Chamber – not to mention procedural hurdles over in the House – but it’s worth watching whether or not Corker’s effort gains momentum and support from fellow Republicans opposed to Trump’s tactics on tariffs.
IMMIGRATION COMING TO A HEAD: House Speaker Paul Ryan pledged that House Republicans would draft immigration legislation for a floor vote in the coming weeks amid an effort by some centrist Republican lawmakers that is on the cusp of amassing enough support to force a series of immigration votes. Speaking with reporters after a lengthy meeting with the Republican conference, Ryan said a compromise bill would be a better course of action than forcing the issue with the support of House Democrats. The group of approximately 24 centrists has set a deadline of next Tuesday to come to an agreement with conservatives with one of the major sticking points – a path to citizenship for Dreamers – standing in the way. The centrists, coupled with a large majority of Democrats, remain fewer than five votes away from forcing a discharge petition and an unwanted internecine showdown with Ryan just weeks away from the summer campaign season kicking into high gear.
CLAWBACKS AND CUTS: The House passed the rescissions package last night cutting approximately $15 billion in leftover spending. The rescissions package - requested by the Trump Administration - faces long odds in the Senate, despite being immune to a Democratic filibuster. Republicans are also preparing a number of other measures focused on cutting spending coupled with a soon-to-be-released reorganization of the federal government by the Trump Administration.
FAMILY FEUD: French President Emmanuel Macron has signaled that progress must be made with President Donald Trump on tariffs, the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris climate accord before he will be willing to sign a joint statement of the Group of 7 at this weekend’s summit in Quebec. The G-7 agenda here. Macron's stance echoes that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has vowed to challenge Trump on trade and climate change at the summit this weekend. Trump departs for Quebec this morning and will leave the G-7 earlier than expected for Singapore in advance of his summit with North Korea – dodging sessions on climate change and trade.
MEXICO STRIKES BACK: Mexico filed a World Trade Organization dispute against the new U.S. duties on steel and aluminum imports, joining Canada and the European Union as major trading partners to challenge the tariffs in the WTO. Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, has signaled that the United States might not comply with WTO findings that fault the tariffs' implementation, raising the possibility that the organization could authorize further retaliation against U.S. goods by economies that are subject to the duties.
HEDGEYE LEGAL CATALYSTS | AMERICAN EXPRESS ANTITRUST DECISION LOOMS (AXP, DFS, AMZN, GOOGL): Paul Glenchur continues to believe the Supreme Court will likely rule against American Express in a major antitrust decision. His latest here.
AT&T/TIME WARNER: APPEAL IN FOCUS (T, TWX) | Assuming AT&T wins, the legal basis and appeals court risk affect the outlook for potential vertical deals, including Comcast-Fox. Read Glenchur's latest here
CMS RE-LAUNCHES HOME HEALTH CLAIMS REVIEW IN SELECT STATES BUT WITH A TWIST | AMED, LHCG, EHC, KND: Our Senior Health care analyst Emily Evans writes that providers will have the option to subject to pre-claim or post-payment review with time off for good behavior. Read her piece here.
OPEC NOTES: RUSSIA PUSHES 1 MBD IN ADDED PRODUCTION BUT SAUDIS WANT MUCH LESS: The Saudis are playing ball with Russia to keep in the fold on market coordination but plan on modest and symbolic amount - far less than 1 mbd. Read the update by Joe McMonigle here.