Capitol Hill Update: September 25, 2017


The House and Senate are in session this week.


The main event this week is the rollout of the tax reform framework on Wednesday. A recent Washington Post report offered a glimpse of what to expect in the tax plan, including a top income tax rate of 35 percent, a top corporate rate of 20 percent, a pass-through rate of 25 percent, and a doubling of the standard deduction. The elimination of most deductions and loopholes are also likely to be part of the framework.

Of course, the biggest hurdle right now is the passage of the FY 2018 budget resolution. House Republican leaders have delayed bringing the budget resolution to the floor because they don’t have the votes for passage, largely because of the lack of details provided for what the tax reform framework will look like. Hopefully, the details provided this week will be enough for holdouts to come on board.

On Monday, the House will consider eight bills on the suspension calendar. These bills require three-fifths of the chamber for passage. Among the bills on the suspension calendar is the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas). The bill provides deductions for personal casualty losses and penalty-free withdrawals from retirement accounts. It suspends limits on charitable giving to encourage giving to hurricane relief and a tax credit capped at $6,000 per employee to help businesses in affected areas.

The Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act also contains language to extend the authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for six months. The current authorization of the FAA expires on September 30. The bill would extend the current authorization through March 31, 2018. Passing a short-term reauthorization of the FAA gives the House more time to whip votes for the 21st Century AIRR Act, H.R. 2997, which would reauthorize the FAA and modernize the nation’s air traffic control system.

Remaining legislation for the week includes the Increasing Opportunity And Success For Children And Parents Through Evidence-Based Home Visiting Act, H.R. 2824, and Control Unlawful Fugitive Felons Act, H.R. 2792. Both of these bills will be considered under regular order, although they are subject to a rule to limit or prevent amendments.

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


Well, September 30 is the deadline to get the vehicle for health insurance reform, H.R. 1628, to the desk of President Donald Trump under reconciliation. Republicans were optimistic that the amendment offered by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) would get at least 50 votes, allowing Vice President Mike Pence to break the tie. But some Senate Republicans have come out against Graham-Cassidy, putting its future in jeopardy.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has blasted the amendment, tweeting Friday that he won’t vote for Graham-Cassidy and "won’t be bribed or bullied." On Friday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) came out against the amendment, making passage of the amendment less likely. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) says she’s leaning against it. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is undecided.

Today, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Graham-Cassidy. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has also announced a hearing, although the day and time has not yet been set. Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is a cosponsor of Graham-Cassidy.

It’s unclear whether Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will bring Graham-Cassidy to the floor if he doesn’t have the votes. If Leader McConnell decides not to use up floor time for Graham-Cassidy, the Senate will likely move on to a short-term FAA reauthorization and reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which expires on September 30. Additionally, there are still several nominations awaiting confirmation.

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