1. Another NECA-supported infrastructure measure sailed through the Senate this week as the upper chamber voted 95-3 to pass the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (S. 2848). The $10.6 billion measure includes more than two dozen new navigation, flood protection, and ecosystems projects, renewals of Great Lakes and Lake Tahoe restoration programs, and $220 million in federal funds to address the Flint, MI drinking water crisis.
NECA’s Look Ahead: The House is hoping to move its slimmer version of the legislation as soon as next week. House Tranportation and Infrastrucutre Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) are on record saying that they want to pass their own bill so they can go to conference with the Senate and wrap up this legislation before the end of the year.
2. NECA signed two coalition letters opposing the Department of Treasury’s proposed changes to Section 2704 on estate and gift tax valuation discounts. These rules will significantly change family businesses’ succession plans and make it harder for family owned businesses to transition to the next generation.
NECA’s Look Ahead: This is another effort by the Obama Administration to bypass Congress and enact regulations that would subject more family businesses to the estate tax and rebukes the hard work elected officials have done to reform and repeal the tax altogether.The changes proposed to Section 2704 would remove legitimate valuation discounts for estate, gift, and generation skipping taxes which businesses have used for the past two decades in order to prevent the IRS from overvaluing their businesses at death. These proposed regulations would force even more family businesses and farms to grapple with the complicated and costly estate tax. Moreover, Treasury’s action does not comport with the will of Congress. On April 16, 2015, the House passed the Death Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 1105) on a bipartisan basis, in a 240-179 vote. In March 2015, the Senate passed a budget amendment to repeal the estate tax (S. Amdt. 607) and in 2013, 80 Senators voted “to repeal or reduce the estate tax, but only if done in a fiscally responsible way” (S. Amdt. 693). NECA will continue to oppose these regulations in support of our members’ interests.
3. In a move to curb executive branch oversight, the House approved legislation requiring federal agencies to post copies of all steps and communications involved in their regulatory activities on publicly accessible websites.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) introduced the Regulatory Integrity Act (H.R. 5226) as a response to activities by the EPA surrounding the NECA-opposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule that the Government Accountability Office subsequently determined violated the law, but the Obama administration has already threatened to veto the legislation should it reach the President's desk.