Washington Weekly
Apr. 20, 2015

Last Week

The House took up a number of bills addressing taxation and the IRS. Passed, were bills addressing the IRS practice of targeting certain ideological groups, as well as full repeal of the estate tax. In addition, the House passed a "Taxpayer Bill of Rights." The Taxpayer Bill of Rights seeks to ensure that taxpayers working with the IRS are informed and assisted, and guaranteed a right to confidentiality and fairness. Also passed was the Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act which prohibits the tax agency from asking taxpayers about their political, religious or social beliefs. Although the Taxpayer Bill of Rights has not made it through the Senate, the IRS announced last summer that it would adopt the legislation on its own. The tax agency posted the guidance on its website and at all facilities.

The Senate took a number of procedural votes related to the fiscal year 2016 Budget Resolution, instructing conferees, which is one more way to get on record support (or opposition) to legislative measures. In addition, they continued to debate Anti-Human Trafficking legislation and the nomination of the next Attorney General. More

This Week

The Senate returns this week in much the same position they were last week: still stuck on its human-trafficking bill, still keeping Loretta Lynch's attorney-general nomination in limbo and still reviewing Congress' review role in any U.S.-Iran nuclear deal. Reports are that they're making progress. Democrats and Republicans said April 16 that they were getting closer to a deal on human-trafficking, the first domino in a row that would allow the Senate to take up the Lynch nomination later in the week. The House will vote on two bills to promote sharing of cyberthreat information between the federal government and the private sector. The two measures would grant companies liability protection when sharing cyberthreat data with federal agencies. Consideration of the bills comes amid high-profile security breaches at major U.S. companies over the last year, such as the hack on Sony Pictures.

Proponents of the legislation argue that the government and private sector should communicate about cyberthreats in order to defend against hacks. But privacy advocates have expressed concern that the measures could offer yet another way for the National Security Agency to collect sensitive data about Americans. More

Item of Interest

It would not be an ASA Legislative Fly-in without some one-of-a-kind excitement. Not only did the prime minister of Iraq visit the Capitol, causing extreme security tightening, visitors to the Capitol were surprised when a Florida mailman landed his gyrocopter on the west lawn (the side where the inauguration takes place). Look to this week's Insights for a full recap of our visits with policymakers in Washington. More

Don't Let TPP Gut State Laws
State laws and regulators are increasingly important as gridlock in Washington makes broad federal action on important issues an increasingly rare event. From environmental protection to civil rights to the minimum wage, the action is at the state level. Ironically, one thing that may get done soon in Washington is a trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has the potential to undermine a wide range of state and local laws More

Mitch McConnell's 2016 Juggling Act
National Journal
When Sen. Rand Paul floated a bill to soften Environmental Protection Agency regulation of ethanol, he had eyes on Iowa voters. In his presidential-campaign kickoff speech, Sen. Ted Cruz appealed to social conservatives by saying the government should protect the "sacrament of marriage" — and he's got legislation to ensure states can block gay marriage within their borders.More

McCarthy Uses Bully Pulpit to Spotlight California Drought
Roll Call
Legislation targeting arcane water rules is not typically the stuff of legacy building for high-profile political figures. But for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, shepherding through Congress a bill aimed at easing the water shortage in his home state — while taking down some federal regulations conservatives contend contributed to the crisis — would be a personal triumph years in the making.More

Truckers Want Feds to Move Faster on Speed Limits
The Hill
The American Trucking Association is calling on the Obama administration to move faster to implement a mandate for electronic speed limit devices on the nation's trucks. The Arlington, Virginia-based group said recently that the Department of Transportation is taking too long to put in a requirement that trucks have devices on-board that will limit their speeds to 65mph to reduce the number of accidents that occur on U.S. roads and highways. More