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Legislative Top Three

Sep 28, 2017

1. On September 27, the long-awaited Tax Reform “framework,” entitled the Unified Framework for Fixing our Broken Tax Code, was released by the group known as the “Big Six.” The group is comprised of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX). The framework was designed to be the consensus position worked out between the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans and represents a significant step toward the goal of enacting comprehensive tax reform this year.

The framework, outlined the following principles as “consistent with the goals of both Congressional tax-writing committees, and are at the core of this framework for fixing America’s broken tax code”:

  1. Simplifying the tax code;
  2. Reducing the tax burden on American workers,
  3. Driving job creation and economic growth, and
  4. Freeing up corporate earnings held overseas to fuel domestic investment. 

The full text of the “Unified Framework for Fixing our Broken Tax Code” can be found here and a one-page highlight document can be found here.

NECA’s Look Ahead: First, Congress will need to pass a budget resolution that allows for expedited consideration of the tax reform plan, and then begin crafting the plan. Getting a budget done will not be easy, but it is essential if Congress is going to move on tax reform this year.  No budget, no tax reform.  Once the budget is in place, the Ways and Means and Finance Committees will begin their work filling in all the missing details. Chairman Brady said this week that his Committee will release legislative language for a tax reform package after the House approves the FY 2018 budget resolution. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), in turn, said that the budget could be considered as early as next week.  

In the Senate, Leader McConnell has indicated that there is agreement within the Senate Budget Committee to proceed with marking up a FY 2018 budget resolution next week.  Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) helped shepherd the agreement, although the current version contemplates reconciliation instructions for tax reform only, not healthcare.  Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said that he expects the budget resolution to proceed to the Senate floor for a vote soon after the markup.

Congressional leadership is aiming to get this all done by Christmas, which is a very aggressive timetable indeed.  On the other hand, as the late Senator Domenici used to say, “you can do anything you want -- as long as you have the votes.”

2. This week, Congress considered and voted on H.R.3823 , the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017, the vehicle to provide funding authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The measure, rather than a full reauthorization, is only a six-month extension of the current law. The bill was initially voted down after the package was rejected by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who insisted other unrelated issues, such as immigration, be included in the bill. The bill was later amended and passed on September 28 by a 264-155 vote. The Senate passed the bill as amended by voice vote.

NECA’s look Ahead: President Trump is expected to sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk. The reauthorization of FAA is a top legislative priority for NECA. We will continue to advocate for H.R. 2997, the 21st Century AIRR Act, which would provide major reforms to FAA and  offer a more stable long-term authorization.

3.  Earlier this week, the Republican-controlled Senate took its most recent attempt at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill, which was not passed through regular order and was given only a week for consideration, was unable to garner enough support by Republican Senators to bring it to the Senate floor for a proper vote.

NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA had multiple concerns with the proposal, including failure to address the Cadillac Tax. We will continue to advocate that any attempt to repeal, replace, or reform the ACA should include a full repeal of the Cadillac Tax, which is currently scheduled to come into effect in 2020.