Capitol Hill Update: November 27, 2017


The House and Senate are in session this week.


We’re leading off with the Senate in this week’s update because that’s where the action is. The chamber will begin the week with a vote on the confirmation of Dabney Langhorne Friedrich to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The chamber invoked cloture on her nomination on November 16.

There few details on exact timing, but the Senate is expected to consider the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, H.R. 1, this week. Because H.R. 1 is being considered under reconciliation, procedural votes — the motion to proceed and cloture — and final passage need only 51 votes. In the event of a tie, Vice President Mike Pence may cast the tie-breaking vote.

After a procedural motion to proceed to the bill, which will be subject to a roll call vote in which 51 votes are required to move forward, the Senate begins an initial 20-hour debate. This is followed by votes on amendments to the bill, during which, theoretically, an unlimited number of amendments can be offered.

Likely the first amendment to be offered will be the language marked up by the Senate Finance Committee. This amendment departs from the House-passed version of H.R. 1 in different ways. It keeps a seven-rate individual income tax bracket system, but it lowers most rates and adjusts income levels to which those rates apply. The individual tax rates will expire after eight years. The child tax credit is expanded to $2,000, not including additional amounts that the filer can claim. The House version is $1,600, not including additional amounts that the filer can claim.

Like the House version, the amendment proposed a 20 percent corporate income tax rate. Unlike the House version, this new rate will not go into effect until tax year 2019. The amendment will allow pass-through businesses to deduct 17.4 percent. The House version lowered the pass-through rate to 25 percent, but the anti-abuse rules are restrictive, allowing the special rate to only the first 30 percent of taxable income, although the filer can prove-out more income.

The Tax Foundation has an overview of the Senate Finance Committee’s language available here.

Passage in the Senate isn’t a certainty. Several in the majority have expressed concerns about the bill. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) have complained that the Senate language does more for corporations than it does for pass-through businesses. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and James Lankford (R-Okla.) are worried about the impact on the deficit, apparently not realizing that Congress has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are wild cards.

The full committee schedule for the week can be found here.


The House will begin work on Tuesday, with a slate of suspensions, none of which are controversial and should easily pass. On Wednesday, the House will consider legislation to require every member and employee working in the House of Representatives to complete workplace rights training. The legislation, which doesn’t yet have a bill number, has been introduced by Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.). The House will also take up the Minnesota‚Äôs Economic Rights (MINER) in the Superior National Forest Act, H.R. 3905. The bill would prohibit the withdrawal of land in Minnesota from mining and restores two mineral leases previously canceled by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act, H.R. 3017, and the Ensuring a Qualified Civil Service (EQUALS) Act, H.R. 4182, will hit the floor on Thursday.

The Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act would reauthorize and reform the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA), which provides grants to state and local governments to clean up contaminated properties. The EQUALS Act would increase the probationary period for federal workers from one year to two years.

On Friday, the House will consider the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, H.R. 1699. The bill changes the definitions of mortgage and loan originator and high-cost mortgage.

The full committee schedule for the week can be found here.