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Capitol Ink | Full Speed Ahead

Regulators warn about fraudsters creating synthetic borrowers
Information cobbled together from multiple people used to make fake identities, establish credit

The Federal Reserve has issued warnings about synthetic identity fraud and is expected to release a report in early 2020 outlining ways that financial companies can mitigate the problem. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The financial technology industry that’s upending consumer finance could be the solution to a kind of identity fraud that’s dogging traditional banks and fintech companies alike.

It’s called synthetic identity fraud, where instead of stealing one person’s information, criminals synthesize a false identity using information from many people — usually those unlikely to monitor their credit, like children, the elderly, prisoners or the homeless. Fraudsters then establish a credit history for the fake person over time until they can trick banks or financial technology companies into lending them money.

Stakes high as long-awaited drug pricing vote nears in House
Parties, president could seek broad compromise before 2020 election as signal to voters

Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Lloyd Doggett is pushing for amendments to the Democratic drug pricing bill that would extend Medicare prices to uninsured individuals and give Medicare the ability to negotiate for all drugs, not just the most expensive products. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When House Democrats vote Thursday on their signature drug pricing negotiation measure, they will be seeking to show that they are addressing an issue that prompted voters to give them the majority and demonstrate that impeachment isn’t stopping them from legislating. 

The political power of the drug price issue isn’t lost on either party. House Republicans unveiled their own drug pricing bill Monday, soon after Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa announced changes to his own version on Friday. The Democratic National Committee and five state parties are launching new web videos and hosting several events aimed at drawing a contrast on health care with Republicans, according to plans shared first with CQ Roll Call.

Craft distillers, retailers wait anxiously for tax extenders
Stakeholders predict layoffs, hiring freezes if deal is not struck by end of year

Rep. Denver Riggleman says it would be “disastrous” for his wife’s Virginia distillery if a 2017 provision that cut excise taxes is not extended past its Dec. 31 expiration date. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman says a looming tax increase on small craft distillers will lead to layoffs at the distillery his family operates in Afton, Virginia, where they make a handful of spirits with colorful names like Strange Monkey Gin and Blackback Bourbon.

And Jeff Quint, a Swisher, Iowa, distillery owner who makes bourbon from corn grown on his family farm, says the demise of the small distillers’ break will force him to rethink new hires he’d been planning.

The Transfer Agent
Fintech Beat, Ep. 31

Public blockchains such as those that underpin cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are most at risk because anyone can participate. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images file photo)

Protester interrupts start of impeachment hearing

A protester interrupts the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Road ahead: Impeachment articles and spending bills top the agenda
Senators will continue voting on confirming nominations, including for the Ninth Circuit

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked the Judiciary Committee to move ahead with drafting articles of impeachment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House is barreling toward a vote on articles of impeachment, possibly before the holiday recess.

House Judiciary Democrats stayed in Washington over the weekend for impeachment strategy sessions, and a Monday hearing will set the scene for the scope of articles of impeachment.

White House tells Dems it won’t cooperate with Judiciary impeachment hearings
Top lawyer tells Congress to end proceedings

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone indicated the White House would not participate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone signaled to House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler Friday that President Donald Trump will not have his attorneys take part in his panel’s remaining impeachment hearings.

“As you know, your impeachment inquiry is completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness,” he wrote in a brief letter that never states the White House will not participate but makes Trump’s feeling about the probe clear.

NC Rep. George Holding retiring, cites redistricting as factor
Holding’s district became more Democratic under the redrawn boundaries

Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., speaks as the House Ways and Means Committee marks up tax overhaul legislation in 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corrected 12/10 | Rep. George Holding announced Friday that he will not run for Congress again in 2020 in his own district or a neighboring one. The North Carolina Republican’s district became more Democratic on a new congressional map.

Holding’s decision comes after he said earlier this week that he would not run in a district that he could not win and that he would not challenge a sitting Republican in a neighboring, and more favorable, district.

Congress frets over program to streamline Pentagon procurement
Some worry that companies won’t spend own money on research, may not compete for important programs

Some in Congress worry that, without assurances of a payoff in production, industry will not spend its own money on research work and some companies may not even compete for some important programs, denying the Pentagon access to certain talent. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four years ago, Section 804 of the defense authorization law freed certain Pentagon programs from the usual acquisition rules, from documenting why a program is needed to how much Pentagon experts who do not work for the same armed service think it will cost.

But now virtually every congressional panel, including both authorizers and appropriators, has expressed in legislation or in reports some degree of concern about how these programs to develop new missiles, satellites, helicopters and combat vehicles are being implemented.