Happy Tuesday and welcome back to On The Money, where we’re already celebrating Independence Day with a cup of tea. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.
THE BIG DEAL–House Democrats sue Treasury to turn over Trump tax returns: The House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday filed its long-expected lawsuit over the Trump administration’s refusal to turn over the president’s tax returns, kicking off what could be a lengthy legal battle.
The committee, chaired by Rep. (D-Mass.), filed a complaint against the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service in federal court in Washington, asking the court to order the defendants to comply with Neal’s subpoenas and a section of the federal tax code.
Why this is big: While the president has sued to prevent lawmakers from getting their hands on documents detailing his personal finances, this is the first time House Democrats have gone to court themselves to obtain such records. The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda and Jaqueline Thomsen explain here.
The background: In April, Neal sent a request to the IRS seeking Trump’s personal and business tax returns from 2013 to 2018, saying that the Ways and Means Committee is conducting oversight and is interested in legislative proposals relating to how the IRS audits presidents.
- Neal made the request under section 6103(f) of the federal tax code, which states that the Treasury secretary “shall furnish” tax returns requested by the chairmen of Congress’s tax committees.
- Treasury Secretary rejected Neal’s request in May, saying that it lacked a legitimate legislative purpose. Neal then issued subpoenas to Treasury and the IRS for Trump’s tax returns, which Mnuchin also rejected.
Trump to nominate Christopher Waller, Judy Shelton to Federal Reserve board: announced Tuesday evening that he intends to nominate Christopher Waller and Judy Shelton to fill the two vacancies on the Federal Reserve board of governors.
Waller is currently executive vice president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, while Shelton is the U.S. executive director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Both nominees will require Senate confirmation.
Shelton was widely reported to be under consideration for a spot on the Fed board. She previously served as an economic adviser to Trump during the 2016 campaign.
She has been a critic of the Fed and aligns with Trump’s view that the central bank should be slashing interest rates. Shelton has also voiced support for a monetary system backed by more than government assurances, similar to the gold standard.
Trump’s Fed board troubles: Trump’s initial choices for the two vacant seats on the Fed board — and — withdrew from consideration in late April and early May amid controversy over their past behavior and comments toward women.
In both cases, GOP senators made clear the two men would not have the support to get through the confirmation process.
LEADING THE DAY
Democrats press Carson after HUD hires aide who authored racist blog posts: Six Democratic senators are pressuring Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary on his department’s hiring of a former consumer bureau official under investigation for a series of racist blog posts.
The senators asked the secretary in a letter released Monday to explain why and how Eric Blankenstein was hired to a legal position at HUD despite controversies that emerged in his previous job.
The senators also asked Carson to explain whether the White House had any role in his hiring, and how much the secretary knew about Blankenstein’s writings.
“In our country, private citizens may espouse whatever views they have, even abhorrent ones. What they do not have a right to is a six-figure federal job,” wrote the senators, all members of the Senate Banking Committee.
The background: Blankenstein joined HUD in June as a senior counsel overseeing matters involving Ginnie Mae, a government-backed firm that guarantees mortgage-backed securities. He previously served as a policy director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) until May.
Blankenstein sparked a rebellion at the CFPB in September when The Washington Post revealed anonymous, racist blog posts he wrote in 2004, long before his appointment to the agency. In those writings, Blankenstein argued that the majority reported hate crimes were likely hoaxes and questioned whether using the “n-word” was inherently racist.
The response: “We all are human, we all make mistakes and learn from them- especially 15 years later- and we all deserve second chances,” Carson said in a statement to The Hill. “Eric’s impressive career and experience will be a great asset to the agency.”
Consumer groups look to stop Facebook cryptocurrency project: Dozens of consumer advocacy groups are asking lawmakers and regulators to put a halt to Facebook’s plans to launch a cryptocurrency over concerns ranging from privacy issues to national sovereignty.
The broad coalition sent letters on Tuesday to congressional committees and regulatory agencies calling for them to impose a moratorium on Facebook’s Libra project “until the profound questions raised by the proposal are addressed.”
“The U.S. regulatory system is not prepared to address these questions. Nor are the regulatory systems of other nations or international institutions,” the groups wrote in the letter. “All of us believe the risks posed by Facebook’s proposal are too great to allow the plan to proceed with so many unanswered questions.”
Who is on board: Among the 33 groups that signed the letter are Public Citizen, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Digital Democracy.
The Hill’s Harper Neidig has more here.
GOOD TO KNOW
- European leaders on Tuesday nominated International Monetary Fund Director Christine Lagarde to be the next president of the European Central Bank (ECB).
- Dozens of consumer advocacy groups are asking lawmakers and regulators to put a halt to Facebook’s plans to launch a cryptocurrency over concerns ranging from privacy issues to national sovereignty.
- President Trump’s decision to lift the ban on U.S. companies selling products to Chinese telecommunications company Huawei is sparking pushback from lawmakers worried about the potential national security implications.
- A pair of Republican senators is pressing the State Department for answers on Boeing’s sale of satellites to Chinese companies, raising national security concerns and worries Beijing is using the technology for human rights abuses.
- AP: “Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned Tuesday that the British economy is barely growing in the wake of mounting Brexit uncertainties and intensified trade tensions.”
ODDS AND ENDS
- “Rising urban housing costs have sped an exodus of residents” to the suburbs, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- JBS USA has won more than one quarter of all USDA bailout funds for pork.