Today In Washington

December 20, 2017

Source: AEO Government Relations Team, Madison Services Group

Tax Bill Ping-Pong

Early this morning, the Senate passed the “Tax Cut and Jobs Act,” but the bill will not be sent to President Trump quite yet. After receiving the bill following House passage yesterday afternoon, the Senate Parliamentarian struck three provisions from the bill prior to Senate passage. This requires the House to re-vote on the amended bill, which the House is expected to pass today, before it is sent to the President. This was not wholly unexpected, given the speed with which the bill was written.  

The stricken provisions were:

  • The short title of the bill “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”
  • Changes to 529 savings plans that would have allowed money is college savings accounts to be used for homeschooling
  • A provision that would have exempted colleges and universities with fewer than 500 tuition-paying students from a tax on endowments of more than $500,000 per tuition-paying student

House Ways & Means Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX) said the House is not finished with tax legislation. Next year, he plans to draft bills addressing retirement savings and a reorganization of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The original plan to address these issues in the current bill was dropped due to time constraints and the Senate’s Byrd Rule.  

Appropriations Watch: Day III

House GOP Leadership has altered their plan on a year-end government funding bill due to rank-and-file opposition within their conference. They have stripped full FY 2018 defense appropriations and the recently introduced $81 billion disaster supplemental bills from the continuing appropriations resolution (CR), instead planning two separate votes on Thursday — a CR to fund the government through January 19, 2018, and the disaster bill — and then adjourn for the holidays. It is unclear at this time whether the House will keep other provisions, such as the five-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), in the CR.  

The Senate has another hurdle altogether. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) that he would include language to bolster Obamacare insurance markets in the CR in return for her vote for the tax bill. He is expected to combine that language with the disaster bill and CR which, if passed, would send the measure back to the House. House conservatives — having already persuaded GOP Leadership to separate the disaster bill from the CR — are flatly opposed to the Obamacare fix, and have already demanded that the provision explicitly ban funding for abortion. For their part, Senate Democrats seemed to back down on their demand for action on DREAMERS after Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said there will be a DREAMERS bill on the Senate floor in January. At least eight Democrat votes are needed to pass the funding bill in the Senate, with Democrats likely needed in the House as well. As a reminder, the current CR expires on Friday.   

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