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Catherine Treadwell Perry, J.D., Director for Government Relations
Last week ASA Advocacy met with Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-GA-3rd) to discuss tax policy. Congressman Ferguson is also the Chief Deputy Whip and sits on the Ways and Means Committee. These meetings and policy updates are important to ASA members because we are able to have an open dialogue with the Congressman and learn about what important tax issues are coming up this Congress.
Before Congressman Ferguson took office, there was everything in his district, but manufacturing. He helped create an environment through infrastructure, energy, tax, and education to bring manufacturing into his district. He understands firsthand how important tax issue can be to the success of companies.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) helped create sustained changes in the tax world and great things are happening because of it. However, the Congressman understands there needs to be a re-haul of some of the tax code, including research and development tax credits, which should add a cap and be rewarded differently.
In D.C. tax extenders are always a topic of discussion, however, realistically nothing will happen until after August recess. This is also true for the technical corrections that need to be made within the TCJA. These corrections should have been changed by now and should be a priority. It is important for the tax code to be implemented how Congress intends it to be.
Of course, we had to ask about the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA)! The USMCA would be a huge win for the President and the country. This agreement has bi-partisan support and there will be a vote on it, when it gets to the floor. However, the currant dynamics with the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the President make this more of a political issue, instead of getting the job done and bringing the vote to the floor.
The good news is that there is a Congressional delegation headed to Mexico to discuss the USMCA. There also is a working group that consists of mostly democrats. This will help us get to a better spot for the Speaker to have support to bring to the floor for a vote. Speculatively, we can hope that there will be a vote in September.
American innovation can and should be at its best. The best thing we can do is to ensure we have a healthy trade partners. This agreement already has Mexico doing more than they ever have before. ASA Advocacy has a grassroots campaign set up so that you can send letters to Congress to let them know we need the USMCA passed NOW! Click here to send your letters and please forward to your co-workers, employees, friends, and family! There is power in numbers and we can NOT wait another year for this agreement to be passed.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is pledging to turn away donations from the health insurance and pharmaceutical lobby during his bid for the White House, while challenging fellow candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination to follow his lead.
- Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris proposed a plan to combat rising drug prices by giving the government power to set fair prices and mandating that drugmakers pass rebates directly to the consumer for treatments sold in artificially large volumes.
- Former Vice President Joe Biden introduced a health care plan that will build on the Affordable Care Act and enact a new federally run public health insurance option, extending premium-free coverage to the roughly 5 million Americans living in states that have rejected Medicaid expansion under the ACA. Biden's presidential campaign estimates the plan will cost $750 billion over 10 years.
- Two-term Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.) will not run for re-election, according to remarks released by his office. Mitchell - who was among the first Republican lawmakers to criticize President Donald Trump's tweets targeting four Democratic congresswomen of color - plans to voice frustration that "rhetoric overwhelms policy" in Washington. (The Washington Post)
- Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas), who was first elected to Congress in 2008, announced he is retiring at the end of his current term. His exit sets up what's expected to be one of the most competitive House races in the country, with Democrat Sri Kulkarni, who narrowly lost to Olson in November, already running again.
- Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama, one of 13 GOP women in the House, announced that she will not seek re-election next year. The five-term congresswoman is the second House Republican woman this year, after Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana, to announce her intention to retire at the end of this Congress.
- The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's bill to address surprise billing will save the government $7.6 billion over a 10-year period, according to a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO concluded that the proposal would increase spending by about $18.7 billion and raise revenue by $26.2 billion.
- The Democratic House approved legislation overturning the Affordable Care Act's "Cadillac tax," a tax levied on generous and costly employer-sponsored health plans that was set to go into effect in 2022.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced a bill that detailed her plan to cut up to $50,000 in student loan debt for those with household income below $100,000. According to the presidential candidate's bill, households with between $100,000 and $250,000 in household income would have less of their debt erased. (The Hill)
- The Senate passed legislation to extend the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund through fiscal year 2090. The measure - which passed the House in a 402-12 vote earlier this month - heads to President Donald Trump for his signature. (The Hill)
- The Senate Finance Committee has released a package of bills to reform drug pricing that proposes setting caps on out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries and cracking down on drugmakers that raise prices faster than the rate of inflation for drugs in Medicare Part B and Part D. The legislation, which would also enact a value-based system for some gene therapies and raise maximum rebates permitted under Medicaid, would save an estimated $27 billion in out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare beneficiaries and $5 billion in premiums over a 10-year period, plus $85 billion in savings for taxpayers. (Politico)
- The House passed a sweeping two-year budget deal that would suspend the debt ceiling through mid-2021 in a 284-149 vote. The Senate is expected to pass the bill next week, and President Donald Trump - who has urged Republicans to support it - is expected to sign it. (The Washington Post)
- Water Justice Bill Introduced. On Monday, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris introduced the “Water Justice Act,” a sweeping bill to ensure all Americans, particularly those in at-risk communities, have access to safe, affordable drinking water, the latest response to burgeoning water crises across the country. The bill would invest nearly $220 billion in clean and safe drinking water programs, with priority given to high-risk communities and schools. As part of that, Harris’ plan would declare a drinking water infrastructure emergency, devoting $50 billion toward communities and schools where water is contaminated to test for contaminants and to remediate toxic infrastructure. The legislation also would establish a $10 billion program to allow states to offset the cost of water bills in low-income communities and environmentally at-risk households. Additionally, Harris would invest $20 billion in a variety of sustainable water supply, recycling and conservation programs. Harris is focusing on the issue as she and other 2020 Democratic presidential candidates turn their sights on Michigan, where the city of Flint has faced a major water crisis. The problems also are dire in Harris’ home state of California, where 1 million of its nearly 40 million residents don’t have access to clean drinking water because of pollution from humans or natural causes. (The IAPMO Group Washington Update- July 27, 2019)
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has released a plan to increase the number of black health care professionals in an effort to not only extend health care to all Americans via his "Medicare for All" plan, but combat racial disparities within the health system. The plan, which was not released alongside a cost estimate, proposes expanding the National Health Service Corps, Community Health Centers and Teaching Health Centers to hire and train more providers of color. (The Hill)
- In a win for the Trump administration's health care agenda, a federal judge upheld the Health and Human Services Department's expansion of short-term insurance plans that fail to comply with the standards established by the Affordable Care Act. The ruling from Judge Richard Leon says HHS has authority to adjust the limit on how long consumers can keep short-term plans for up to three years, longer than what was permitted under the Obama administration. (Axios)
- Congressional and White House negotiators have agreed to boost federal spending and increase the government's borrowing limit in a deal that will suspend the debt ceiling until the end of July 2021, after the 2020 elections. The deal also raises spending nearly $50 billion in the next fiscal year, omitting spending cuts the White House initially wanted. (The Wall Street Journal)
- Lawmakers introduced bipartisan and bicameral legislation that aims to reduce emissions from domestic industrial manufacturing and has the support of trade groups like the American Chemistry Council and National Association of Manufacturers. The Clean Industrial Technology Act would establish an Energy Department program to determine how to curb emissions from industrial processes, which constitute about 30 percent of U.S. emissions. (Bloomberg BNA)
- The Trump administration has until Saturday to decide whether to renew expiring waivers for Chevron Corp. and four oil services providers to continue working with Venezuela's Petróleos de Venezuela SA. Sources said the administration has yet to decide on the matter, and analysts considered an expiration of waivers as likely as an extension. (S&P Global Platts)
- U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other U.S. negotiators will travel to China on Monday for the first in-person, high-level talks between the United States and China since trade negotiations broke down in May. The Chinese government requested that the meeting be held in Shanghai instead of Beijing. (Bloomberg)
- The Senate is in session. The House is in recess.
- Democratic presidential candidates will participate in the second round of primary debates this week in Detroit. They will be broadcast Tuesday and Wednesday night on CNN.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has set up votes for 19 District Court judicial nominees this before the Senate joins the House for August recess. The chamber had focused on higher-level Circuit Court nominees for the first 30 months of Trump's term
- American and Chinese trade negotiators are set to meet this week in Shanghai for the first high-level talks since they broke down in May.
| || NEWS FROM STATE AND LOCAL |
Update on State Bills Being Tracked
No updates to provide
New State Activity
New York - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that $10 million will be awarded to 18 municipalities statewide to continue the state's initiative to replace residential drinking water lead service lines through the New York State Department of Health's Lead Service Line Replacement Program.
It’s hard to wrap your head around just how low U.S. interest and bond yields are—still are—a decade after the Great Recession ended. Year after year, prognosticators said that rates were bound to go back up soon: Just be ready. That exercise has proved to be like waiting for Godot. In 2018, Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., put Americans on alert to the likelihood of higher interest rates. He said the global benchmark for longer-term rates, the yield on a 10-year Treasury bond, could go above 5%. Right now it’s just a hair above 2%.
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has edged past her main 2020 progressive rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and is behind only former Vice President Joe Biden in a new poll of climate-focused voters.
For voters who say a candidate's climate plan is “very important” in their choice, Biden is supported by 30%, followed by Warren at 20% and Sanders at 16%, according to the Morning Consult poll conducted for the Sierra Club.
Capital gains taxes are the price of making a good investment. They’re levied on profitable stock trades and real estate deals but also can apply to sales of businesses, pieces of art, collectible cars, gold and other assets. President Donald Trump’s administration is looking at ways to reduce capital gains tax bills for investors, while Democrats seeking to challenge him in 2020 have put a tax increase on the table.
The race for the Democratic presidential nomination enters a new phase, with candidates desperate to make an impact in a second round of debates. The debates, which take place in Detroit, offer a last chance for some candidates to break out of the lower tiers in the field. Among the top candidates, the verbal punches will fly thick and fast as the big names vie for an advantage at the last big event before the campaign quietens down for much of August.
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