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Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have recessed for the month of August and are scheduled to return on Tuesday, September 8.
While the House was out this week, the Senate remained in session to debate the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) and the redirection of federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Ultimately, the Senate agreed to delay votes on these issues until the fall.
Despite optimism for tax reform at the beginning of the year, it now seems that a comprehensive rewrite is, as Chairman Ryan put it, a “2017 project.” Throughout the rest of this year we expect Congress to devote considerable time and energy to a long-term highway bill that could incorporate elements of international tax reform. In those deliberations, we anticipate a specific focus on bringing back some of the trillions of dollars US-based multinational companies are currently holding abroad to pay for replenishing the highway fund in the long run. Late last week, both the House and Senate passed a three-month patch for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) – reauthorizing transportation programs through October 29. This sets up another potential showdown as lawmakers only have 23 scheduled legislative days to consider another long-term bill.
Congress faces a new slew of other deadlines in addition to HTF reauthorization, specifically a vote on the Iran nuclear deal, government funding, a Federal Aviation Administration bill, and then the debt ceiling. Final passage of a tax extenders bill is also expected near the end of the year. At this point it is too early to tell how things will play out, but we’ll have a clearer picture of the legislative agenda when Congress returns in September.
Just before leaving town on Wednesday, Senate Finance Committee members voted unanimously to release their final report on the IRS’s treatment of groups applying for tax-exempt status. As you may recall, the Committee began its investigation in May 2013 after IRS officials admitted to targeting and denying certain groups during their tax-exempt application process. A press release and official Committee documents are available here.
Congress can be like a picky eater. Rather than take items off the plate, it moves them around, rearranges them, but doesn’t actually get down to the business of eliminating them.
The House left town last week and this week the Senate followed. We did get a brief glimmer of hope that tax provisions like the IRA charitable rollover would get extended before Congress left for the August break, but that didn’t happen. Would it surprise you to learn that they left all the really tough stuff to tackle when they return in September?
Funding for the highway bill runs out at the end of October – two days before Halloween to be precise. Here’s another scary thought – funding for the federal government runs out in October as well. And now there are rumblings by some in Congress supporting a government shutdown if something is not done about federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Congress is also going to need to do something about the debt ceiling in the next few months as well. Raising the ceiling is a tricky proposition at best.
The end of this year likely won’t be pretty, especially considering we have a 2016 Presidential race looming with four sitting Senators running for that office. This is among the many reasons we don’t see a clear path forward on getting all of these items off the Congressional plate without the legislative equivalent of hiding them in a napkin.
- National: Finance Committee Releases Bipartisan IRS Report
- National: IRS Mismanaged Tea Party Groups, Senate Report Finds
- National: Coming to a 2016 campaign near you: New fiscal cliff?
- National: Study Reports Philanthropic Surge in 2015
- National: Chaffetz Calls For Removal of IRS Chief
- National: Tax Court Clarifies NIMCRUT Valuation Rules
- Local: Preserve Charitable Tax Deduction
- Opinion: Public Policy Philanthropy: A Conservative Agenda
- Opinion: Making the Giving Pledge Global Takes More Than Money
- Opinion: Who’s Afraid of DAFs?
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