Washington will have a week to catch its breath after a breakneck news cycle closed yesterday with the House passing its version of tax reform, and the Senate Finance Committee finishing its markup of their tax proposal. The House passage was by a 227 to 205 margin with 13 Republican defections, featuring lawmakers almost exclusively from high-tax states that will be disproportionately hit by the elimination of the state and local tax deduction (SALT). Passage on the House floor is the last immediate step for lawmakers in the lower chamber, who will now wait on the Senate to attempt to pass their own tax reform package.
While tax reform has remained the dominant headline for most of the last month, today marks a particularly important day as the House aims to vote on its package and the Senate tries to mend the first few cracks in the Republican plan. Starting with the House, four hours of debate started last night ahead of an anticipated vote today. Republicans are confident that they will be able to approve the bill (H.R. 1) today on the strength of their majority, which will likely be their last action before breaking for the Thanksgiving recess next week. Republican leadership will be able to afford 22 defections and a whip count from The Huffington Post shows 10 Republicans expected to vote no, with another 5 “leaning” no and 10 undecided. The Republicans lined up against the tax proposal are almost exclusively from states that would be hit hardest by the reduction of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction used as a revenue raiser in the House plan. All Democrats are expected to vote against the plan.
The Senate Finance Committee’s version of tax reform legislation got a significant rewrite yesterday that would provide for deeper tax cuts, but possibly embroil the plan in the political thicket on healthcare. Specifically, yesterday’s changes involve making a host of individual tax cuts temporary, boosting the child tax credit to $2,000, and perhaps most importantly, eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate for insurance coverage. By getting rid of the individual mandate, the Senate plan gains about $338 billion in revenue to help pay for other changes in the tax plan, but it would likely come at the cost of millions of more individuals lacking insurance and an increase in health insurance premiums for many consumers. Some conservatives, particularly in the House, have also balked at the idea of advancing the Alexander-Murray ACA stabilization package as a contingent part of the deal. The Finance Committee markup continues today; the latest chairman’s mark of the Senate’s legislation is attached.
Tax reform continues to headline action in Washington this week, as the Senate Finance Committee continues their markup of the upper chamber’s version of the tax overhaul legislation while lawmakers in the House prepare for a vote later this week. While some defections are likely inevitable, House Republican leadership has voiced confidence that they will have the votes to advance the package later this week. The House Rules Committee has teed up a hearing for the bill on Wednesday, likely setting up an up-or-down vote on Thursday.
The Republican race to finish tax reform legislation before the end of the calendar year enters another critical week as the House takes up its legislation (H.R. 1) on the chamber floor and the Senate Finance Committee begins a markup of the upper chamber’s version of the package. While some defections are likely inevitable, House Republican leadership has voiced confidence that they will have the votes to advance the package before the end of the week and they intend to make few changes to the package passed out of committee last week. The House Rules Committee has teed up a hearing for the bill on Wednesday, likely setting up an up-or-down vote on Thursday.
- The Tax bill comes to the full House on Thursday (at Rules on Wednesday)
- Senate Finance starts its mark-up of the tax reform bill on Monday.
- The House Rules Committee is schedule d to meet on Monday to try again at bringing the Flood Insurance bill to the Floor.
- The House Financial Services Committee will mark-up over 20 bills starting on Tuesday.
- DOL Secretary Acosta will be before the House Ed and Workforce Committee on Wednesday.
Democrats are celebrating victories this morning in yesterday’s elections in New Jersey and Virginia, as well as other local races across the country. In the most high-profile race, Ralph Northam defeated Ed Gillespie for the Virginia governorship by a nine-point margin, four points more than Hillary Clinton’s victory in the state last year. That fact has some political analysts viewing last night’s results as an early indicator for next year’s midterm elections, particularly as exit polls suggest that voters viewed the Virginia and New Jersey races as a referendum on President Trump. The next election to watch is in Alabama, where Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore are vying for the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became Attorney General earlier this year. Election day for that race will be on Dec. 12.
Political attention will shift away from Washington and towards Virginia and New Jersey today as those states’ voters head to the polls for a gubernatorial election. The Virginia race in particular is anticipated to be a close contest between current Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Ed Gillespie. Political observers will be viewing the results as a barometer on the electorate following President Trump’s surprising win a year ago, with an eye towards next year’s national midterm elections.
Tax reform is still the talk of the town in Washington as Republicans kick their legislative effort into overdrive this week. The tax reform frenzy kicks off with a highly anticipated markup in the House Ways and Means Committee beginning at noon today. The markup is expected to go into the late evening hours today and consume most of the week. It remains unclear how significantly the bill will change in the markup process, but Republican leaders have already suggested that there will not be an open amendment process when the legislation reaches the House floor.