Michael D Crapo

Facebook incurs wrath from both parties at Libra currency hearing
Bipartisan group asks why Americans should trust Facebook with their paychecks given its repeated data privacy scandals

David Marcus, head of Facebook's Calibra digital wallet service, prepares to testify during the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on "Examining Facebook's Proposed Digital Currency and Data Privacy Considerations" on Tuesday, July 16, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators from both parties questioned at a hearing Tuesday why Americans should trust Facebook’s new digital currency system with their paychecks given the social media giant’s repeated data privacy scandals.

Libra, a cryptocurrency under construction by a Facebook subsidiary called Calibra, was announced in May to a blast of bipartisan incredulity by lawmakers and the Trump administration. Critics asked how the company could ensure that Libra, which is designed to be anonymous, could be prevented from being used by money launderers, traffickers or terrorists.

Facebook cryptocurrency stirs worry and support in both parties
Top Democrat urges Fed and regulators to protect consumers and economy from Facebook’s ‘monopoly money’

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, right, was peppered with questions about how the Fed would deal with Libra, Facebook’s new cryptocurrency. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Facebook Inc. got a preview Wednesday of what to expect next week when executives come to testify about plans to launch Libra, a digital currency and online payment system.

At a hearing Wednesday morning, Democrats and Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee peppered Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell with questions about how the central bank would respond to Libra.

FHFA head sees plan this year to change Fannie, Freddie status
Mark Calabria also wants Congress to act

Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been under federal control since they accepted bailouts in 2008 during the housing market collapse. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria said he hopes to have a roadmap for ending the federal conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the end of the year.

Speaking at a National Association of Realtors event Tuesday, Calabria said it was his job as FHFA director to develop a plan for recapitalizing and releasing the government-sponsored entities, or GSEs. The two mortgage giants have been under federal control since they accepted bailouts in 2008 in the wake of the housing market collapse.

Conservatives back proposed gray wolf delisting as green groups howl
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said gray wolf populations recovered significantly after nearly disappearing

Crystal, a female gray wolf, roams the new wold enclosure during a sneak peak of the new American Trail at the Smithsonian National Zoo August 29, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (Allison Shelley/Getty Images)

The Department of Interior moved on Thursday to remove gray wolves from federal protection, pleasing congressional Republicans and rankling environmental organizations that plan to fight the decision in court.

“Glad to see it,” Montana Sen. Steve Daines who like many western Republicans supports less federal control over at-risk species, told CQ. “Any time we can move a species off the endangered species list should be a victory.”

Fintech industry pursues clarity on ‘token’ regulation
Advocates are finding a sympathetic ear in Congress

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, is planning to reintroduce with Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., legislation that would further define the term “digital token.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Financial technology advocates are seeking an answer from regulators on when things like digital tokens should be deemed to be securities, and they’re gaining a sympathetic ear in Congress.

Further clarity from regulators would encourage more U.S. growth in digital assets, the advocates say.

Housing finance agency confirmation hearing could involve dueling mortgage plans
The Senate Banking hearing could show the likely direction of efforts to overhaul agencies that are huge players in the national mortgage market

Ranking member Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, left, and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., attend a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled “Oversight of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission,” on December 11, 2018. Jay Clayton, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, testified. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration’s still undisclosed plans to end the federal conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be a focus of upcoming confirmation hearings for the nominee of the federal agency overseeing the two government sponsored enterprises.

Democrats such as Senate Banking ranking member Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, have said they’re concerned about the suitability of Mark Calabria, the nominee to run the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The committee hasn’t said when it will hold a hearing on Calabria’s nomination.

Democrats’ Absence Not Halting Procession of Trump Judicial Nominees
Recess week hearing features two nominees for the Ninth Circuit

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch has been a regular participant in the Judiciary Committee hearings during the Senate recess. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

For the second week in a row, no Senate Democrats made the trip back to D.C. to question a slate of President Donald Trump’s nominees for lifetime appointments to the federal bench, but their boycott is not impeding the GOP’s ability to line up those nominees for confirmation by the end of the year. 

Sen. Michael D. Crapo of Idaho presided over the hearing, which also featured an appearance by former Chairman Orrin G. Hatch of Utah. Democrats have decried the unusual recess hearings as a further erosion of senatorial courtesy and an indication of Republicans’ desire to ram through judges regardless of institutional protocol.

Even Without Democrats, Trump Judicial Nominee Gets Some Tough Questions
Sen. John Kennedy asked about Allison Jones Rushing’s experience for appeals court

Allison Jones Rushing, nominee to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit, testified Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t make the trip back to Capitol Hill to question one of President Donald Trump’s federal appellate picks Wednesday.

But that doesn’t mean she got away without some tough questions.

K Street Turns Its Lonely Eyes to Grassley
Republican holds the key to cascading possibilities, from Judiciary to Finance to Banking

Will Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, make the leap to head the Finance Committee next year? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Fresh off a divisive Supreme Court battle, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley has a complicated decision to make next month that has the business world watching with keen interest: whether to make the jump over to the Finance Committee chairmanship in the 116th Congress.

“Ask me Nov. 7,” was all the Iowa Republican would say earlier this week on the topic. But the allure of returning to the helm of perhaps the most powerful committee in Congress, with jurisdiction over taxes, trade and health care policy, can’t be lost on Grassley, who was Finance chairman for part of 2001 and again from 2003 through 2006.

From Soft Certainty to Roaring Indignation, Kavanaugh Hearing Was Study in Contrasts
“This is not a good process, but it’s all we got,” Sen. Jeff Flake says

Rachel Mitchell, counsel for Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, questions Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday as, from left, Sens. Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho, Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Mike Lee, R-Utah., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, listen during the hearing on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/POOL)

Senators got two irreconcilable accounts Thursday about whether Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually attacked a girl when he was in high school, setting up a pitched partisan showdown about whether that allegation and others that have surfaced this week are enough to derail his confirmation.

First, Christine Blasey Ford, in a soft but certain tone, told the Senate Judiciary Committee she is “100 percent” certain it was Kavanaugh who pinned her to a bed and covered her mouth as he sexually attacked her at a high school gathering decades ago.