Washington Update for the Week Ending April 28, 2017

capitolhillNCPA’s Legislative Director Brian Williams tells us what’s happening on Capitol Hill.

Congress has returned to work after a two-week spring break. Their first order of business this week was to avert a government shutdown.  After last year’s election, Congress passed a temporary funding bill to keep the federal government open until this week.  The idea was to give the new Congress and the new President time to hammer out a year-long funding deal.  For now, Congress has extended the temporary funding measure for one more week, until May 5, to finish up the details of the year-long deal. As of now, it appears the deal will not include funding for the border wall, although it will include funding to bail out health insurance companies that are struggling under Obamacare. The negotiations are ongoing, so things could change between now and next week.

The other major item of business in Congress this week was a return to the issue of Obamacare repeal. Over their two-week break, several conservative “Freedom Caucus” members negotiated with the moderate “Tuesday Group” to forge a deal to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The details are still being worked out, but in general the deal gives states much more flexibility to comply with Obamacare. This is not the same as repealing Obamacare, but it will give states the opportunity to escape many burdensome Obamacare regulations, if they choose to do so.  Once House leaders decide they have enough votes to pass the deal, it will move very quickly, perhaps before next week.  Then the bill will advance to the Senate where all bets are off.

Here’s what else is happening in Washington this week:

  • President Trump unveiled a plan to overhaul the tax code. The plan would lower the corporate tax to 15% and create three individual brackets: 10, 25 and 35%. Still, several details seem incomplete. For instance, the plan does not address the death tax.
  • All 100 senators visited the White House this week for a classified briefing on North Korea. Later, the White House team went to the House of Representatives for a similar briefing.
  • The Trump Administration said it was working on an executive order to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but then pulled back.
  • A federal judge in San Francisco has blocked President Trump’s order to cut federal funding to sanctuary cities.

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