Another Continuing Resolution Likely as Controversies Continue to Embroil 2018 Appropriations Process
The delays in FY 2018 appropriations negotiations have led many to speculate that another continuing resolution (CR) is more likely this December than an omnibus spending deal. Some policymakers have said that there could be a 2- or 3-month CR, leaving room for a longer-term omnibus bill to be passed in February or March 2018. As a reminder, our current CR expires on December 8, 2017.
Twenty-four House Democrats have threatened to oppose any FY 2018 spending deal that does not include a provision giving legal status to undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children. President Trump, on the other hand, told Senate Republicans last week that he does not want an immigration package tied to the spending deal, while Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said he does not expect the issue to come up until January or February 2018.
Tax Bills Unveiled in Both Chambers, House Bill to Receive a Vote this Week
House Republican leaders are planning to hold a floor vote this Thursday on their tax overhaul bill, which would lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20% and collapse the number of tax rates from seven to four. While the bill is expected to draw unanimous opposition from Democrats, Republican leaders are confident they have enough Republican votes to pass it.
On the Senate side, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said he plans a markup later today of the Senate’s version of the tax overhaul bill. The Senate version, which was unveiled last Thursday, contains a number of differences from the House bill. Unlike the House bill, which would immediately lower the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%, the Senate draft would delay the reduced rate until January 1, 2019. The Senate bill also does not include a $10,000 property tax deduction included in the House bill.
The Senate bill does, however, mirror the House bill in a number of crucial ways. Like the House bill, the Senate bill would drive up deficits by $1.5 trillion over the next decade and give very large tax cuts to the wealthiest households and profitable corporations. Furthermore, when the tax cuts in the Senate bill—like the House bill—are ultimately paid for, low- and middle-income families would likely lose more in health care, education, job training, and other services than they gain in tax cuts, while high-income households would likely remain large net winners.
Once the Senate passes its tax reform bill, the bills from the two chambers will need to be reconciled before they can be sent to the president’s desk. It is likely that some of the Senate’s tweaks to the House bill will face opposition among very conservative House Republicans. Republican leaders in both chambers are still aiming to pass tax reform by the end of the calendar year.
President Trump Nominates Alex Azar to be Health and Human Services Secretary
This morning, President Trump nominated Alex M. Azar II, a pharmaceutical executive and former Deputy Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary under President George W. Bush, to be the next secretary of HHS. Since leaving HHS in 2007, Mr. Azar has spent the last ten years in the pharmaceutical industry. Mr. Azar’s nomination is likely to raise questions about the president’s commitment to pressuring drug companies to lower prices in the US.
Mr. Trump’s first HHS Secretary, Tom Price, resigned in September amid controversy over his use of chartered jets for government travel.