“U.S. turns down China offer of preparatory trade talks.” Yesterday, the Financial Times reported:
The Trump administration rejected an offer by two Chinese vice-ministers to travel to the U.S. this week for preparatory trade talks because of a lack of progress on two key issues, highlighting the difficulty that Washington and Beijing will face in trying to reach an agreement by a deadline of March 1.
This week’s planned trip by Wang Shouwen and Liao Min was intended to pave the way for a higher-level meeting in Washington on January 30 and 31 by Liu He, China vice-premier, and Robert Lighthizer, U.S. trade representative.
But, according to people briefed on the negotiations, U.S. officials cancelled this week’s face-to-face meetings with Mr. Wang, a vice-minister of commerce, and Mr. Liao, a vice-minister of finance, because of a lack of progress on ‘forced’ technology transfers and potentially far-reaching ‘structural’ reforms to China’s economy.
President Trump’s schedule (EST):
10:30 AM: Holds a conference call briefing on his immigration proposal with state, local and community leaders;
2:00 PM: Participates in a “fair and honest pricing in healthcare” roundtable; and
3:00 PM: Meets with conservative leaders on his immigration proposal.
The House will vote early this afternoon on its Consolidated Appropriations Act, H.R.648, to reopen the government. The Senate will resume consideration of S.1 and has scheduled back-to-back cloture votes starting at 2:30 PM tomorrow on competing Republican and Democratic amendments to reopen the government. Both votes are expected to fall short of the required 60 votes. If not, then it would be up to President Trump again to decide whether to reopen the government.
Two Senate shutdown end votes will probably fall short Thursday. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agreed to vote first on the Republican plan as an amendment to the House-passed spending bill, H.R.268 ( CBO cost estimate), to be followed by a cloture vote on a Democratic amendment to fund the government through February 8th. Each would require 60 votes to advance. More in last night’s Wall Street Journal article.
“Hundreds of IRS employees are skipping work. That could delay tax refunds.” Last night’s Washington Post article led with:
Hundreds of Internal Revenue Service employees have received permission to skip work during the partial government shutdown due to financial hardship, and union leaders said Tuesday that they expected absences to surge as part of a coordinated protest that could hamper the government’s ability to process taxpayer refunds on time.
The Trump administration last week ordered at least 30,000 IRS workers back to their offices, where they have been working to process refunds without pay. It was one of the biggest steps the government has taken to mitigate the shutdown’s impact on Americans’ lives.
But IRS employees across the country — some in coordinated protest, others out of financial necessity — won’t be clocking in, according to Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, and several local union officials. The work action is widespread and includes employees from a processing center in Ogden, Utah, to the Brookhaven campus on New York’s Long Island.
Now the tax filing season is bound to be impaired.
Rx pricing hearing set by Senate Finance for 10:15 AM January 29th. No witnesses have been announced yet for next Tuesday’s hearing, but you can bet they will be loaded with proposals for curtailing prescription drug prices. House Oversight will hold a similar hearing on the same day. See this January 14th press release about its investigation. More in last night’s The Hill article.
“Anonymous ‘ghost ship’ is among groups flooding drug pricing debate.” Yesterday’s Washington Post article led with: