Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is weighing whether to invoke the “nuclear” option by changing filibuster rules to require only a simple majority to approve executive branch nominees. Under the current rules, a nominee must clear a 60-vote supermajority to move forward to a confirmation vote by the chamber.
The move comes ahead of several votes scheduled for Tuesday on seven controversial executive branch nominees staunchly opposed by the GOP, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Richard Cordray and Labor secretary nominee Thomas Perez. Republicans argue that forcing changes to the rules for filibustering will destroy the character of the Senate. - Read more at The Hill
JUNE RETAIL NUMBERS: SHOPPERS GETTING STINGY Retail sales in June climbed just 0.4 percent, falling short of expectations for a 0.8 percent gain, according to data released by the Commerce Department this morning.
The data shows that higher demand in automobiles and higher gas prices accounted for the gains, while “core sales” that mostly correspond with consumer spending—fell by 0.1 percent.
“While it's hard to say for sure, the June retail sales number could indicate that the drag from higher payroll and income taxes may still be weighing on the consumer, even as we approach mid-year,” said JPMorgan Chase economist Michael Feroli in a client note.
The weak economic data comes as the Federal Reserve continues to assess when would be best to scale back its economic stimulus program. - Read more at The Fiscal Times
RETAILERS CAUTIOUS ABOUT BACK TO SCHOOL SHOPPING Clothiers and other stores are ordering conservatively for this year’s back-to-school-season, as weak data suggests consumers will not be spending as much as they traditionally do for the second biggest shopping season of the year. Though many retailers declined to provide details to the Wall Street Journal, a collection of shipment, factory orders and credit signaled orders were weaker than last year. United Parcel Service, for example, said on Friday that customers were selecting slower but cheaper shipping services in a weak economy. Data from China also revealed that new export orders shrank in June at their fastest pace since last September. - Read more at Reuters’
CHINA’S ECONOMY IS SLOWING DOWN After two decades of double-digit growth, China’s economy is slowing down. Data released this morning shows the Chinese economy grew 7.5 percent during the second quarter of the year, down 7.7 percent in the first quarter—marking the second straight quarter of slowing growth. - Read more at The Fiscal Times
AMERICANS SUPPORT PHASING OUT FANNIE AND FREDDIE – A new poll by the American Action Forum shows the majority of Americans (59 percent) support phasing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—the housing giants that played a major role in the housing bubble and received nearly $200 billion in bailout from the government. - See the survey obtained in advance by Politico here
FANNIE AND FREDDIE PHASE OUT BILL House Financial Services committee will have a hearing on Thursday to discuss Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s draft of the Fannie/Freddie reform legislation. - See the draft bill here