SENATE DEMS WON’T BLOCK SPENDING BILLS OVER SCOTUS NOMINEE. Senate Democrats don’t plan to block spending bills as a way to retaliate against Republican leaders for an expected blockade of President Obama’s eventual Supreme Court nominee. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters  Tuesday that he may oppose the GOP tactics but he doesn’t plan to respond with his own version of obstruction. Power Post has more:

“Pressure is not going to come by holding up the legislative agenda,” said Senate Democratic Conference Committee Chairman Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). “We are going to let these bills go forward.”
The decision not to block appropriations bills is a major shift from last year, when Democrats refused to allow votes on any spending legislation until Republicans agreed to across the board spending increases. In blocking the legislation, Schumer and Reid helped create a scenario where Republican leaders agreed to spending increases over two years in order to avoid taking responsibility for a repeat of the 2013 government shutdown.
… They could still decide to block the spending bills for other reasons, particularly if Republicans decide to attach politics-driven  “poison pill” riders. Last year, Democrats fought back against GOP threats to use the spending bills to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act and roll back environmental regulations and elements of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform legislation.

HOUSE DEMS MOVE ON INVERSIONS. Reps. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) teamed up Tuesday to introduce legislation that would crack down on a tax avoidance strategy that makes it easier for large companies to shift profits overseas. Levin, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means committee and Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the Budget committee, want to make it harder for companies with overseas headquarters to make loans to their U.S. subsidiaries and then deduct the cost of interest on those loans. The Hill has more: 

After an inversion, the now-foreign-controlled companies will often engage in earnings stripping. This is when the foreign parent lends money to the U.S. affiliate and the American subsidiary gets a tax deduction for interest payments made to the foreign entity.
The bill from Levin and Van Hollen would reduce the amount of the interest deduction that companies can claim to 25 percent of taxable income. The legislation would apply to companies that invert on or after May 8, 2014.

VILSACK BULLISH ON TPP. Republican leaders may be pouring cold water on hopes that Congress could take up President Obama’s 12-nation Pacific Rim trade agreement, but Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is still confident that the TPP will pass, according to the Hill’s Vicki Needham.

Vilsack said that in the end, “a majority of both the Senate and the House will see the wisdom of getting this thing through. That’s the expectation. That’s the belief.”
While he expects a close vote on the trade agreement, “I’m optimistic and hopeful that we’re going to prevail,” Vilsack told reporters on a conference call. 
The White House intends to cast a wide net in an effort to gather enough votes to pass the TPP as soon as possible, he said.