Washington Weekly
Dec. 8, 2014

Last Week

The House passed tax extenders and the National Defense Authorization Act. Tax extenders include some 55-tax breaks that expired at the end of last year, making them applicable to tax year 2014 as well. They are known as “tax extenders” because they are technically not permanent, but still are extended on a regular basis. Included in the tax extenders, generally an exercise that Congress will pass annually with little fanfare, are the R&D tax credit, bonus depreciation (would extend 50 percent bonus depreciation to property acquired and placed in service during 2014), and extending the Section 179 Deduction, which was allowed to lapse in 2013. Under Section 179, you can elect to recover all or part of the cost of certain qualifying property, up to a limit, by deducting it in the year you place the property in service. Highlights of the tax extenders can be seen here.

In addition, the House passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2013(or the ABLE Act of 2013) legislation which enables parents and guardians to establish tax-free accounts for children with a disability. According to sponsors, the tax-free savings accounts help parents and guardians manage the costs of medical care, housing, transportation, and continued education. The Senate cleared a number of executive branch nominations while awaiting action in the House.

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This Week

The House Appropriations Committee plans to release the "cromnibus" spending bill today. It would fund all of the government, except the Department of Homeland Security, through September 2015. Agencies dealing with immigration policy would only be funded through late winter, likely into February.

This will set up a House vote on Wednesday at the earliest, leaving a short time frame for the Senate to clear the measure to President Obama. In order to pass and avert a government shutdown, House Republicans will likely need Democratic help to pass the appropriations package. Many conservatives, who think the strategy doesn't go far enough to block President Obama's executive action to delay immigrant deportations, will likely vote against it. The House plans to send its members home once the appropriations package is headed to Obama's desk. But the Senate's adjournment could be later because it still hasn't passed a package to renew expired tax breaks, the defense authorization, various nominations, and other unfinished business.

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Item of Interest

Last week we reported that the Marketplace Fairness Act (online sales tax) was alive and being fought for in the House and Senate. Nearly 30 supporters of efairness pled our case with the Speaker and House Judiciary Committee Chairman, but came up short. We are pleased to see that this effort had gone all the way to the Speaker and, like our allies in this fight, ASA remains committed to getting this passed early this winter. We will hold the Speaker to his commitment to get this done.More

Last-Ditch Push to Pass Marketplace Fairness Act in House Falls Short
Roll Call
As House Republicans race against the clock to negotiate a government funding bill and a reauthorization of the Terrorist Risk Insurance Act, rank-and-file lawmakers lobbied leadership one last time to bring another piece of legislation on the floor before the year’s end: A bill that would boost the collection of sales tax on the Internet. Despite Speaker John A. Boehner's insistence in October that he would not bring the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act up for a vote in the 113th Congress, advocates still huddled in the Ohio Republican's office Wednesday afternoon to make their case.More

Watchdogs Brace for Surprises in Massive $1.014 Trillion Spending Bill
The Hill
Outside groups are bracing for surprises in the massive government-funding bill the Congress is expected to consider next week. The $1.014 trillion bill funding most of the government through September 2015 is one of the last trains out of the station, as the 113th Congress is set to close shop on Friday.More

HHS Doesn't Want Jonathan Gruber at the Table
Politico
No one seems to want to sit next to Jonathan Gruber. The Obama administration is asking Rep. Darrell Issa not to put its senior Medicare official next to the now infamous Obamacare "architect" when both testify on Capitol Hill next Tuesday. But it's very clear that Issa, in one of his last investigative hearings as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wants to put Obamacare in a harsh spotlight by pairing Gruber with Marilyn Tavenner of CMS. More

Will Immigration Plan's Launch Repeat Obamacare's Mistakes?
National Journal
The White House has been down this road before. It knows what happens when lots of people try to sign up for a controversial new government program but can't. So having been through last year's disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov, the administration doesn't want history to repeat itself as President Barack Obama's new immigration plan comes to life.More