The White House released its long-anticipated infrastructure plan on Monday, February 12. The plan would spend $200 billion over 10 years to leverage $1.5 trillion in total spending, give greater control and authority to state and local governments regarding the types of infrastructure projects in which they invest, incentivize private investment and expedite project permitting. Our infrastructure team provides a detailed analysis of the plan, including the funds made available under the plan, and the specific ways to promote private sector involvement in infrastructure development set forth in the plan. Click here to read the full piece.
Trade and sanctions
U.S. sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) apply to U.S. persons, including companies incorporated in the U.S. and U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and, in certain circumstances, non-U.S. persons. U.S. sanctions fall into three general categories: list-based sanctions, comprehensive country- or region-based sanctions, and sector-based sanctions. List- based sanctions prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in virtually all direct or indirect transactions or dealings with persons designated on OFAC’s list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List) (or companies owned 50 percent or more by such blocked persons). Comprehensive sanctions broadly prohibit U.S. persons and, in certain instances, non-U.S. persons, from engaging in business activities with specific countries or regions (e.g., Iran, Syria, Cuba, North Korea and the Crimea region), including importing or exporting, directly or indirectly, goods or services to or from such countries or regions, unless authorized by OFAC. Finally, OFAC administers “sectoral” sanctions that prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in certain specified transactions with certain entities operating in strategic sectors of the Russian economy.
New leadership and priorities at the SEC. In May 2017, Jay Clayton, President Trump’s pick for the position of Chairman of the SEC, was sworn into office. Chairman Clayton, a former partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, has said that he will not seek “wholesale changes to the Commission’s fundamental regulatory approach,” though he has outlined a new set of priorities. In particular, he has cited retail investor fraud, investment professional misconduct, insider trading, market manipulation, accounting fraud, and cyber matters as areas on which the Commission should focus in order to best serve “Main Street” investors. Also in May 2017, William Hinman was named the new director of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance. Given his experience as a partner in the Silicon Valley office of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, Mr. Hinman’s selection complements Chairman Clayton’s stated objective of encouraging more companies to join the public market. Annual statistics for SEC enforcement actions during its 2017 fiscal year have yet to be released, but, in August 2017, The Wall Street Journal published an analysis that showed that financial regulators have imposed far lower penalties in the first six months of Donald Trump’s presidency than they did during the first six months of 2016 (during the Obama administration).
Akin Gump has issued an alert on administration and congressional activity since President Trump’s inauguration. The report highlights key regulatory and legislative developments across a range of policy areas. This document also previews the policy agenda for the coming year and concludes with a political update and analysis of the 2018 congressional elections.
Special Bonus: Tax reform
When President Trump was inaugurated on January 20, Republicans took full control of Congress and the White House for the first time since 2007. Prior to this, the GOP had unified control of the Legislative and Executive Branches for only six and a half of the past sixty-four years. Republicans immediately set about using this historically rare opportunity to push forward long-held policy goals, including comprehensive tax reform.
On November 2, 2017, the House of Representatives released the first draft of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the Bill), which could result in the most significant overhaul of the U.S. federal tax system since 1986. Subsequently, two substantive amendments were introduced by the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. While the Bill is expected to change substantially and the Senate version remains to be unveiled, the Bill provides certain indications as to how tax reform may affect investment funds and asset managers. Significant aspects can be summarized as follows:
Akin Gump’s international trade lawyers wrote an alert on CFIUS’s 2015 annual report and published 2016 data. Please click here to read the full alert.
As part of the effort to rebrand the party and reconnect with working-class voters who were lost in the presidential election, congressional Democrats revealed a new populist policy agenda, titled “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future” (hereinafter, “A Better Deal”), on Monday, July 24. The agenda outlined by A Better Deal has three pillars: (1) creating jobs and raising wages and incomes, (2) lowering the costs of living and (3) building an economy that helps families conquer challenges of the 21st century. The agenda includes several sections that will be fleshed out further over the coming weeks. Those sections, including one titled “Crack Down on Corporate Monopolies and the Abuse of Economic and Political Power” that focused on increased antitrust enforcement, will often be accompanied by legislation.