Policy

GOP May Take Cue on TPP From Trump

By Thomas McKinless, Ellyn Ferguson
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A spending bill that funds watchdog agencies overseeing Wall Street will offer lawmakers one of their last opportunities to undercut President Barack Obama’s signature financial overhaul before the November elections.
Financial interests are pushing for big changes, championed mostly by Republicans, to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the $21.7 billion House Financial Services draft appropriations bill . The debate will also give Democrats a chance to rail against big financial firms and reinforce a popular campaign trail refrain.
In addition to the CFPB, which was authorized by Dodd-Frank, financial industry lobbyists say they’re pushing for changes to insurance regulations as well as to the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which monitors the stability of the financial system.
“This particular bill is a magnet for Wall Street’s lobbyists and Wall Street’s allies,” said Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets and a proponent of Dodd-Frank.
[ On Fifth Anniversary, Dodd-Frank Financial Regulations Appear to Be Here to Stay ]

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Senator Chuck Schumer wants phone companies to provide consumers with technology that would stop voice and text message robocalls to landlines and cell phones.
He plans to introduce a bill called the Repeated Objectionable Bothering of Consumers on Phone (ROBOCOP) Act, which also would require telephone companies to label and block fraudulent phone calls that try to hide the identity of the caller.
“Robocalls are one of the things that annoy Americans the most and the ROBOCOP Act will finally help put a rest to these dreaded calls that are interrupting family dinners — or worse, scamming people out [of] their hard-earned money,” the New York Democrat said in a statement .
It's already illegal for someone to mask their caller ID for fraudulent or harmful purposes. The Truth In Caller ID Act of 2009 was aimed at stopping caller ID spoofing, which makes the phone call appear to be from a bank, credit card company, or even a government agency, as a way to swindle consumers.
The ROBOCOP Act would help consumers from ever receiving those calls, according to Schumer's statement.

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Carla D. Hayden is one step closer to becoming the first African-American and woman to head the Library of Congress.
The Senate Rules and Administration Committee approved Hayden's nomination by voice vote Thursday. Chairman Roy Blunt of Missouri said he expects her nomination to move to the floor this month.
"The nominee, in my opinion, will bring a wealth of experience to the position," Blunt said at the committee meeting.
[ Library of Congress Nominee Impresses Senators ]
Hayden, 63, currently heads the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, a position she has held since 1993.

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The German Parliament on Thursday approved a measure  recognizing the  1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a "genocide," drawing attention to the failures of similar efforts in the United States.
Turkey, the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, condemned the vote and responded by recalling its ambassador from Germany. The expected backlash from Ankara comes just when the European Union is looking to the country to help stem the flow of migrants into Europe.
Multiple bills attempting to recognize the massacre as a genocide have stalled in Congress, including one that was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee last year. President Barack Obama promised during his first campaign to "recognize the Armenian genocide," but has so far failed to honor that promise.
Western historians have long used the term "genocide" to describe the killings of as many as 1.5 million Armenians during World War I.  More than 20 other countries, including France, Russia and Austria, have passed similar resolutions and Pope Francis drew the wrath of the Turkish government last year when he referred to the killings as the first genocide of the 20th century.
Turkey, a U.S. partner and NATO ally, denies that there was a systematic campaign to kill Armenians and says the death toll has been inflated.

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Senate Democrats unveiled a sweeping plan Thursday that would overhaul the nation’s campaign finance and lobbying laws, and provide election-year messaging for its sponsors.
Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island said the measure would repeal the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizen’s United decision, which helped pave the way for big-spending super PACs. It would also permanently ban lobbying by former members of Congress — a prohibition previously championed by Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet , who is up for re-election this year.
“This reform package will shift power away from the special interests, dark money groups and lobbyists with outsized, undue influence, and put it back into the hands of the people we came here to represent,” Bennet said.
[ Campaign Finance Reform PAC Wants to Be a Player in 2016 ]

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American Farm Bureau Backs Voluntary GMO Labeling

By Thomas McKinless, Ellyn Ferguson
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