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Capitol Hill Update, 7 December, 2015
House & Senate/Schedule: The House and Senate both remain in session this week, and given Speaker Paul Ryan’s comments today, it appears that they may be in next week as well, depending upon how long it takes to reach a deal on government funding and tax extenders.
House/Health Care: Last week, the Senate amended the House’s reconciliation bill to make it actually repeal the bulk of ObamaCare and passed it back to the House by a 52/47 vote. The House is set to take up that bill this week and it will certainly pass and go to the president’s desk, laying the groundwork for ObamaCare repeal should a conservative become president in 2017. Special thanks are due to Senators Lee, Cruz, and Rubio for holding up the reconciliation bill and forcing Leader McConnell to include an actual repeal of the greater portion of ObamaCare.
House & Senate/Spending: Negotiations continue on a bill to fund the government, with the possibility that a short-term extension of funding may be necessary to avoid a partial government shutdown on December 11th. At stake are dozens of legislative riders – including important limits on EPA activities and warrantless government surveillance - that passed in spending bills earlier this year. The bill will also fund the government at the higher levels agreed to in Boehner’s parting budget agreement in October, breaking the budget caps.
House & Senate/Taxes: Negotiations are also ongoing for the annual exercise known as the “tax extenders”, to prevent a number of temporary tax credits and deductions from expiring. These include business-friendly provisions that have become essential, such as expensing allowances, but also includes overt handouts to specific target industries. Most egregious of these corporate welfare handouts is the wind production tax credit, which FreedomWorks and most free market advocates have long opposed. The tax extenders may be tucked into the omnibus spending bill, which would seem to make it less likely that bad extenders like the wind PTC would be removed.
House & Senate/Cybersecurity: Both chambers have been locked in furious backroom negotiations to finalize a compromise bill between House & Senate measures that purport to address cybersecurity. There are three bills that are being worked together, all of which are fundamentally poorly structured. However, the House Homeland Security Committee’s bill, the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act (NCPAA) is the best of the three with regards to protecting against companies sharing their users’ sensitive personal data with each other and the government. Word from the Hill suggests that the final result may cut out most of the privacy and due process protections from the NCPAA, and produce a result that looks more like the Senate’s Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA).