On The Money: Lawmakers strike spending deal | US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline | Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst over new NAFTA

Happy Thursday and welcome back to On The Money, where we’re getting ready to hibernate after next week. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL–Lawmakers strike spending deal to avert shutdown: Lawmakers reached a deal in principle Thursday on 12 annual spending bills to fund the government and avoid a shutdown.

Appropriators reached agreement on a number of contentious issues, including how to fund President Trump‘s proposed border wall.

“We had a very good meeting, and there’s a meeting of the minds, and we’re going to look through some of the details, but I feel confident that we’re going to have a product very shortly,” House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said following days of negotiations.

  • Details of the legislation remain under wraps, but House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he expects to bring the legislation to a vote on Tuesday, likely grouped into at least two packages or “mini-buses.” 
  • Democrats say they have received assurances that President Trump will sign the bills once they pass, averting a shutdown after the December 20 funding deadline. 

The Hill’s Niv Elis breaks it down here.  




US, China reach partial trade deal: The U.S. and China on Thursday reached a partial trade agreement that includes scrapping tariffs set to go into effect on Sunday, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Further specifics of the limited deal were not immediately clear, and it must still be signed by President Trump and leaders in Beijing.

A statement from the White House was expected at some point Thursday evening, according to an official. The White House declined to comment.

The timing: The agreement, which was first reported by Bloomberg News, comes just days before tariffs on roughly $160 billion on Chinese goods — including cellphones, video games and certain toys — were set to increase.

Trump originally delayed those tariffs in August, saying the tariffs would go into effect Dec. 15.

What’s next: The deal does not appear to address structural changes to Beijing’s economy that Trump’s White House has pushed for since the president first imposed tariffs more than a year ago, meaning the United States and China will continue negotiations in search of a broader agreement.

The politics: Even an initial deal with China, though, would deliver a win for Trump on one of his marquee issues and would come just two days after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House would take up the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), another priority for the president.

The Hill’s Brett Samuels and Morgan Chalfant have more on the deal here.


Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst on Trump’s new NAFTA: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer faced pushback and a “bucket full” of questions Thursday during a closed-door caucus lunch meeting meant to sell Senate Republicans on the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

Republican senators stressed that they expect the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will have the votes to pass the Senate but acknowledged there was still opposition within the caucus and broader frustration with how the trade negotiations had been handled.

The Hill’s Jordain Carney takes us there.

  • “There’s some opposition to some pieces of it, as you might imagine.” — Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.).
  • Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, acknowledged that Lighthizer got some criticism from Senate Republicans but stressed that it was “not a lot.”
  • “It’s imperfect, and some people are concerned about the more recent negotiations,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), but he added that he thought a “vast majority” were comfortable with the agreement.
  • It’s a bad practice and I don’t think the Senate should just quietly agree to be jammed in the process.” — Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) 

The bottom line: It’s hard to see a situation where Republicans kill one of Trump’s top legislative priorities, even if it goes against the party’s traditional views on trade. Republicans know where Trump stands on trade and have been reluctant to even curb the most unpopular of his tariffs. 


House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers: The House on Wednesday passed a bill granting legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers.

The legislation to provide work permits for agricultural workers was approved on a bipartisan 260-165 vote.

After months of closed-door bipartisan negotiations, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act  was introduced in late October by Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.).

  • Under the proposal, the H-2A visa category for agricultural workers would be reformed to add flexibility for employers bringing in new foreign labor.
  • The bill would allow foreign workers who’ve worked in the U.S. agricultural sector for at least 180 days over the past two years to request five-year visas for themselves, their spouses and their minor children.



  • Industry groups are pressing lawmakers to include their tax priorities in year-end legislation, setting off a last-minute scramble.
  • The wealth tax proposal from White House hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is unlikely to raise as much revenue as the Massachusetts senator’s campaign claims it would, according to projections from the Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) released Thursday.
  • An association of CEOs from major U.S. corporations wrote to President Trump and congressional leaders urging them to pass federal legislation to make paid family and medical leave available to more Americans.
  • A federal appeals court on Thursday grappled over how to handle a lawsuit against President Trump that alleges that he is violating the Constitution’s emoluments clauses.
  • The Washington Post: “Financial regulators appointed by the Trump administration proposed Thursday an overhaul of a 40-year-old anti-discrimination law, potentially upending the way banks make loans to low-income communities.”



  • A business-backed trade group established to support President Trump’s United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) has backed off from taking a position on the deal following compromises made by the White House in its negotiations with House Democrats.
  • Just 13 percent of workers nationwide are highly concerned about their job security, according to Prudential Financial/Morning Consult survey.

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