1. It is widely expected that Congressional leaders will release a framework for tax reform on September 25. The document is expected to detail “core elements of tax reform” as agreed to by Senate and House leaders and the White House. The group, known as the “Big Six,” jointly released a two-page statement in July that outlined a broad set of agreed-upon tax principles. The members of the Big Six are House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Specifics on the actual proposal have yet to emerge. If Congress follows the House schedule and adopts a budget resolution by the middle of October, there will be 28 legislative days left on the House calendar for the remainder of 2017. Congress must act by December 8 to fund the government or face a shutdown, which could distract from the tax debate. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has been reaching out to Democrats to discuss tax reform. In recent weeks he has met with several Democratic Senators who are up for reelection in 2018 and has spent some time meeting with a bipartisan group of moderate House members known as the “Problem Solvers.” The goal for the Senate to move a bill is to get around 30 Democratic senators and 30 Republican senators on board. That goal may be difficult to reach, as 45 of the 48 sitting Democratic Senators signed a letter earlier this year that laid down three conditions for supporting tax legislation: that it not add to the federal deficit, that it not increase the burden on the middle class, and that it go through the regular order process in Congress.
2. In a last-ditch effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) on September 13 released a new reform proposal. Under their plan, the ACA funding streams would be replaced with a state block grant system that would provide $1.18 trillion over seven years to states for the ACA’s Medicaid expansion enrollees, premium tax credits, cost-sharing reduction payments, and Basic Health Program. States could waive some insurance regulations as part of the block grant program. Other changes include eliminating the individual and employer mandate penalties, and repealing the medical device tax and reducing taxes related to health savings accounts (HSAs). Other ACA taxes and fees would be maintained, including the NECA-opposed Cadillac Tax.
NECA’s Look Ahead: The proposal was drafted as an amendment to H.R. 1628, the vehicle for Republicans’ Affordable Care Act repeal efforts through the budgetary procedural process known as reconciliation. The challenge for Congressional leaders is that the Senate parliamentarian has said that the reconciliation instructions, which allow Republicans to pass a bill with a simple majority of 51 votes and not 60 votes, expire at the end of September. Senate Majority Leader McConnell has said he would allow a vote on the measure next week.
3. NECA and our coalition partners are continuing to work to delay implementation of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate. A joint multi-industry press conference will take place on September 27, 2017 at 9:00 am EDT calling on President Trump to use whatever means necessary to implement a delay. In addition, NECA is working with the Department of Transportation to relay our concerns over the rule, which will be a tremendous financial and recordkeeping burden for NECA contractors nationwide.
NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA supports exempting all electrical construction industry contractors who employ truck drivers from this burdensome rule. It is widely hoped that this delay, if granted, will give contractors and drivers the necessary time to make the case with FMCSA that this requirement is unnecessary for construction. Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, recently introduced NECA-supported legislation, H.R. 3282, the ELD Extension Act, which would delay the mandate for two years. Contact your representative and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 3282 and delay this mandate.