07 December 2018

ACR News 12.7.18 – Lame Duck, New Members, and New Leadership

>> Federal: Washington Roundup
>> Federal: Lame Duck Tax Package
>> Federal: New Leadership
>> Federal: Foundations on the Hill/ACR Summit for Leaders
>> Consider This: New Lawmakers, New Opportunities
>> Top Reads: Charities Brace for Tax-Driven Dip in Year-End Giving

Washington Roundup

With only a few weeks left in the 115th Congress, the House and Senate are working to wrap up several policy priorities before the end of the year. The highest item on the agenda is government funding, some of which was set to expire today, but with the recent passing of former President George H.W. Bush, congressional leaders and White House officials agreed to a temporary funding measure that punts the deadline to December 21. Other priorities for the lame duck session include a tax package addressing retirement legislation; tax extenders and technical corrections; a farm bill; criminal justice reform; and judicial confirmations. The likelihood of getting through that list in its entirety is slim.

Lame Duck Tax Package

Early last week Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) released a tax package that included retirement savings provisions, tax extenders, IRS reform, and a few technical corrections to last year’s tax bill. In addition, Chairman Brady introduced a manager’s amendment later in the week that included a repeal of UBIT on transportation and parking fringe benefits imposed on tax-exempt organizations. As you may recall, the UBIT provision that was included in the 2017 tax package would have caused many nonprofits to pay tax for the first time. House lawmakers are expected to vote on that package next week at the earliest.

Should the tax package pass, it will head to the Senate where the Finance Committee is expected to make changes in order to get to the 60 votes needed for passage. Given the political landscape in the Senate, it’s going to be tough to get anything through. However, retirement savings, IRS reform, disaster relief and extenders, all of which are in the package, have large bipartisan support in the Senate, so a compromise remains a possibility.

New Leadership

Before Thanksgiving, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced he will pursue the Senate Finance Committee chairmanship in the 116th Congress. Republican members of the committee must select their chairman next Congress, and the selection is subject to confirmation by the Senate Republican Conference. However, based on seniority and experience, Grassley is an assumed shoo-in. You may recall during his time at the helm of the Finance Committee in the mid-2000s, Chairman Grassley focused on oversight of the tax-exempt sector and while he has not yet announced his staff, we suspect some former staffers from that time could return. This link provides an overview of his accomplishments in Congress as well as with the IRS as it relates to nonprofit oversight.

For the next Congress, House Democrats voted on their leadership slate, and now-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) won her party’s nomination for speaker with 203 votes; 32 Democrats voted against her. On January 3, House members will cast their vote for speaker, and Pelosi will need at least 218 to win the position. She is expected to come out as the winner, but it is likely to be a slim victory.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) handily won his party’s nomination for Minority Leader, and both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) retained their positions in the upper chamber.

Foundations on the Hill/ACR Summit for Leaders

In conjunction with Foundation on the Hill this March, ACR will hold our Summit for Leaders on March 12, which will include the ever-popular congressional staff panel. Speakers will be announced in early March.

To register for the summit, click here.

Consider This – New Lawmakers, New Opportunities

On January 3, a freshman class of 109 lawmakers will be sworn in (it would be 110, but now-Governor Rick Scott will finish out his term as governor of Florida until swearing into the Senate on January 8). These new faces bring new opportunity for the charitable sector to educate policymakers on the importance of philanthropic freedom and, hopefully, gain some new champions for our causes.

There are many issues we suspect could come up next year: the universal charitable deduction, the private foundation excise tax, issues around donor-advised funds, and several others. And we’ll be there to convey our positions, but it’s important for folks around the country to do the same.

In a political world with a split Congress, we’re fortunate that charitable giving is a bipartisan issue with little opposition. So, as new lawmakers are developing their agendas and setting priorities, engagement with them is critical.

We’ll be letting you know throughout 2019 what you can do to engage with your federal policymakers. Stay tuned.

Top Reads

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