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Capitol Hill Update, 21 July, 2014
House & Senate/Schedule: The House and Senate are both in session this week and next week. They will leave town for their five-week August recess on August 1st.
Legislative Highlight of the Week: The Senate is likely to take up the House-passed bill to bail out the structurally insolvent Highway Trust Fund, H.R. 5021. The plan would raise about $10 billion to fund the Trust Fund through May 2015, relying mostly upon budget gimmicks to pretend to pay for the new spending. While Majority Leader Reid and his Democratic cohorts are discussing votes on a few amendments of their own, they are likely to once again shut down most or all Republican amendments to this bill. Senator Mike Lee will offer an amendment that would gradually return highway spending directly to the states.
Senate/Taxation: The Senate will spend much of the week on the Bring Jobs Home Act, S. 2569. Sponsored by Senator John Walsh (D-MT), this bill would give a tax credit to businesses which bring assets back to the U.S. from overseas, while penalizing businesses for any assets they move out of the country. This bill completely ignores the root cause of the supposed problem it is meant to solve - the reason businesses continue to send more of their money, factories, and employment overseas is because the United States continues to impose the largest corporate tax burden of any industrialized nation, while most countries overseas are reducing theirs.
House/Education: On Wednesday and Thursday, the House will consider two education-related bills.
H.R. 3136, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act, sponsored by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), would create a pilot program for colleges to evaluate students based on actual knowledge and competency gained rather than just credit hours received.
H.R. 4984, the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Counseling Act, sponsored by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), would require that all students who are given federal student aid be given counsel on the financial consequences of taking on student debt.
House/Taxation: On Thursday and Friday, the House will consider two bills related to tax credits.
H.R. 4935, the Child Tax Credit Improvement Act, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), would allow the child tax credit to increase from its current $1,000 by indexing the amount to inflation. This bill would also allow married couples to receive the same credit as a single parent, eliminating what basically amounted to a marriage tax penalty.
H.R. 3393, the Student and Family Tax Simplification Act, sponsored by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), would make permanent the temporary tax credit for tuition and other educational expenses, and would simplify other education-related tax provisions.