Today on the Hill: Election Day in NJ, VA; Brady Releases Tax Substitute Amendment

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.

In Congress, House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX) introduced a substitute amendment (attached) for the House tax package yesterday, detailing a series of technical clarifications as well as some substantive changes designed to broaden the Republican consensus on the bill. Among the more significant changes are new qualifying provisions for the earned income tax credit program and a broadening of the dependent care assistance exemption for work-related expenses for caregivers. Other changes could come in an additional substitute amendment later this week, but Republican lawmakers are not expected to offer any other substantive amendments during this week’s markup.

On the House floor, lawmakers will consider a set of eleven suspension bills, including one measure (H.R. 2148) advanced out of the House Financial Services Committee that would clarify capital requirements for commercial real estate loans. Additionally, and pursuant to a closed rule, the House will vote today on a bill (H.R. 3441) that would clarify the definition of joint employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The bill is considered partisan after being advanced out of the House Education and the Workforce Committee last week on a 23-17 party-line vote.

The Senate will continue its work on relatively non-controversial nominations today. Today’s docket will feature a final up-or-down vote on the nomination of John Gibson to be Deputy Chief Management Officer at the Department of Defense and a vote to invoke cloture on the nomination of Steven Engel to be an Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice.