This Week on the Hill: Tax Reform Hits Legislative Stride, Senate Bill Expected Later This Week

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.

In additional tax news, the Senate Finance Committee is expected to release their version of a tax overhaul later this week. The Senate version is likely to differ significantly on some issues from the House version, particularly as the writers need to respect Senate budget constraints that do not apply to the House. Commenting on what he expects from the Senate bill, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) told reporters last week that the two committees are “going with significantly different concepts,” but that he is optimistic about the prospects for reconciling the two versions once they pass their respective chambers.

Floor action this week will be relatively straightforward. The Senate faces another week of nominations with votes expected today on the nomination of Steven Engel to be Assistant Attorney General and John Gibson to be Deputy Chief Management Officer of the Department of Defense. The nominations of William Wehrum to be Assistant Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, Peter Robb to be General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, and Derek Kan to be Under Secretary of Transportation are next in the Senate’s queue.

Meanwhile, the House convenes today for votes on five Veterans Affairs-related bills under suspension of the rules. Later this week, the lower chamber is scheduled to consider three bills under normal procedures, namely measures to modernize hydropower policy (H.R. 3043), streamline registration requirements for micro-offerings (H.R. 2201), and clarify the treatment of joint employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (H.R. 3441).