1. Congress Unable to Avoid Partial Government Shutdown
As of this morning, the House, Senate, and White House are unable to reach a final agreement on and funding bill. Although both the House and Senate passed separate short-term funding bills, neither bill initially included a level of border security funding that would avoid a presidential veto. The funding fight was kicked back to the Senate on Thursday night after House Republicans easily approved a measure adding more than $5 billion for the border as well as disaster recovery money to a seven-week continuing resolution (CR) bill. The Senate will come into session Friday at noon, giving Congress only 12 hours to prevent a partial lapse in funding as both sides are digging in and ratcheting up their shutdown rhetoric.
NECA’s Look Ahead: Without the votes to pass the bill through the Senate (60 votes are needed), lawmakers are stuck with two options: Reject the House bill outright or strip out the extra border money, send it back to the House and see if conservatives and Trump yield. As of now, it seems that if a shutdown takes place it could last throughout the end of this Congress, which it would become the first issue the new Congress would tackle on January 3, 2019. NECA will continue to monitor and update members on the status of negotiations until a final resolution is enacted.
2. Cadillac Tax Delay and 529 Reform Passes House
The House passed, largely on party lines, the NECA-supported House amendment to H.R. 88 - Retirement, Savings, and Other Tax Relief Act and the Taxpayer First Act and H. Res. 1181.
NECA’s Look Ahead: This NECA-supported bill contains two top priorities: the delay of the Cadillac Health Care Tax, and the expansion of the 529 savings plan to include costs associated with DOL registered apprenticeship programs. It is unlikely that the Senate will be able to pass this legislation with the limited legislative days between Christmas and the start of the next Congress on New Year’s Day.
3. Congress Approves First Step Act
Earlier this week, Congress voted to approve the First Step Act (H.R. 5682), a piece of wide-ranging prison reform legislation. Championed by the White House and bipartisan congressional leaders, NECA has come out in support of the bill’s attempts to reduce recidivism rates through increasing access to pre-apprenticeship programs and vocational training for nonviolent offenders.
NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA commends President Trump and Congressional Leaders who worked in an effective manner to pass reasonable bipartisan legislation. As NECA continues to work to address the expanding labor shortfall in this country, we remain open to any and all solutions that offer responsible growth in our industry.