Washington Update for the Week Ending September 23, 2016

NCPA tax briefing. NCPA hosted a Capitol Hill briefing last week to educate tax staff and policymakers about the economic effects of the tax plans proposed by the two major presidential candidates.  NCPA Executive Director Allen West spoke about the importance and consequences of tax reform, while NCPA senior fellows David Tuerck and Pamela Villarreal spoke about the specific results of our analysis of the Trump and Clinton tax plans, which were developed jointly with the Beacon Hill Institute. The briefing provided information to tax staffers about how the Trump tax plan would cut almost everyone’s taxes, with most of the tax breaks going to people with higher incomes, resulting in higher levels of investment and job creation. Tax staffers also learned that the Clinton tax plan would raise taxes on the rich, increasing revenues for the federal government, but would have a detrimental effect on job creation and economic growth. We also spent much of the week meeting with House Ways and Means Committee offices to educate staff and policymakers about the Social Security benefits tax, the carried interest tax, and reasons why we should not tax high frequency trading.

Government funding. At the beginning of this week, it looked like Congress would quickly agree to a short-term funding resolution, then go home to campaign for re-election.  But by the end of the week, an agreement remained elusive.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a funding resolution that keeps the government operating until December 9, and also includes new funding to fight the Zika virus and to assist states in recovering from the recent spate of flood disasters. But Senate Democrats are holding out for a $220 million payment for Flint, Michigan, to help them replace municipal water infrastructure.  #NoFlintNoCR is their hashtag rally cry to oppose the funding measure. The end of the fiscal year is next Friday, September 30.  If an agreement isn’t reached by then, it could provoke a government shutdown.  Stay tuned on this.

Lame duck. Almost any significant legislation that isn’t related to government funding has been postponed until the lame duck session after the election.  Depending on the outcome of the November 8 election, the list of items to be considered in the lame duck session could include the National Defense Authorization Act, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, the energy bill, and 21st Century Cures.

NDAA. With the National Defense Authorization Act in limbo until after the election, Col. West spent much of his time in Washington this week meeting with members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, delivering a policy letter with our recommendations for the NDAA. The letter was co-authored by Col. West and NCPA Senior Fellow David Grantham (click here to check out Dr. Grantham’s national security blog). To improve our national security and to ensure our young men and women in uniform receive what they need to succeed, NCPA is recommending much-needed acquisition reform for the military, bureaucracy reform at the Pentagon, and a pay raise to bring many of our servicemen and servicewomen above the poverty level.

Other things that happened in Washington last week:

  • IRS Commissioner John Koskinen faced tough questions at an impeachment hearing focusing on his role in targeting conservative advocacy groups.
  • Former aide to Secretary Hillary Clinton, Bryan Pagliano, refused to testify about the private e-mail server used by the Secretary of State, so the House Oversight Committee voted to hold him in contempt of Congress.
  • It was not a quiet week for corporate CEOs, as the CEO of Mylan pharmaceuticals was grilled about her company’s practice of selling the EpiPen for $600,while the CEO of Wells Fargo was grilled by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) about his company’s practice of opening unauthorized accounts to meet sales goals.
  • The President has until today to veto the bill that allows 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, which Congress is expected to override.
  • The President spoke at the United Nations this week, encouraging countries to admit more refugees. The Republic of Texas was not convinced.
  • Oh, and in case anyone has already forgotten, the United States was attacked this week—again—by an Islamic-inspired terrorist who exploded IEDs in New York and New Jersey.

Brian Williams is the Legislative Director for the NCPA.

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