Business Briefs – February 7, 2019

No Plans Yet for U.S., China Presidents to Meet on Trade

WASHINGTON (AP) – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday there are no plans yet for President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to meet soon in hope of finalizing a trade deal. Mnuchin plans to travel to China’s capital next week to continue the negotiations. The U.S. and China are in the midst of talks aimed at resolving a costly trade war. Mr. Trump has said a comprehensive agreement is unlikely to be inked until he meets with his Chinese counterpart.

Some Workers Still Unpaid After Shutdown, Dread What’s Next

WASHINGTON (AP) – Nearly two weeks after the end of the longest government shutdown in U.S history, many federal workers are still reeling financially and waiting to be made whole by government agencies that have struggled with payroll glitches and delays in ensuring everyone is paid. Many have not received back pay while scrambling to catch up on unpaid bills and pay back unemployment benefits — all while another government shutdown looms next week.

Mnuchin Says Powell and Trump Had ‘Productive’ Meeting

WASHINGTON (AP) – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says that President Donald Trump had a “quite productive” dinner with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. He says they discussed a wide range of subjects, from the state of the economy to sports. The dinner marks the first time Powell and Trump have met since Powell took office as Fed chairman in November 2017.

Financial Watchdog to Gut Most Of Its Payday Lending Rules

NEW YORK (AP) – The nation’s federal financial watchdog agency plans to abolish most of its critical consumer protections governing the payday lending industry. Of note, payday lenders would not be required to make sure borrowers could afford to repay a payday loan without being stuck in a cycle of debt.

Infrastructure Bill Faces Many Potholes in Months Ahead

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump pronounced himself eager to work with Congress on a plan to rebuild America’s crumbling roads and bridges, but offered no specifics during his State of the Union speech on what kind of deal he would back. The question now is whether lawmakers and the president are finally ready to move beyond complaining about the nation’s infrastructure problem and actually do something about it.

History says no.

Lawmakers from both parties are expressing hope about reaching an agreement, but the key will be whether they and the president can figure out how to pay for it. Mr. Trump’s initial proposal made little progress in the last Congress as Republicans were content to rely on their tax cuts and the strong economy to make their case to voters in the midterm elections. Democratic lawmakers, for their part, considered the president’s plan inadequate and unrealistic.

Now, high-powered interest groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are trying to jumpstart momentum on the issue, and congressional committees in both chambers are scheduling hearings.