Week ahead: Congress rushes to pass tax reform, funding before holidays

Week ahead: Congress rushes to pass tax reform, funding before holidays
© Greg Nash

Republicans are rushing to finish their massive rewrite of the tax code and pass a government funding bill before Christmas.

Senate and House Republicans struck an agreement Wednesday on a sweeping tax-cut bill that, if passed, would be the first major piece of legislation signed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpFed saw risks to US economy fading before coronavirus spread quickened Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants MORE.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyDemocrats, GOP spar over Treasury rules on Trump tax law Ex-HHS chief threatens to vote 'no' on surprise medical billing measure Bipartisan Ways and Means leaders unveil measure to stop surprise medical bills MORE (R-Texas) told reporters the bill would be released Friday at 5:30 p.m.

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Senate GOP leaders plan to hold an initial procedural vote on Monday, a final Senate vote Tuesday and then send the measure to the House for final passage.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKentucky state official says foreign adversaries 'routinely' scan election systems Don't let 'welfare for all' advocates derail administration's food stamp program reforms Whistleblower retaliation: Stop confusing unlawful attacks with politics MORE (R-Ky.) heralded the development as something that would boost the middle class.

"We want to take more money out of Washington's pocket and put more money into the pockets of the middle class. I'm confident the conference committee will finalize a bill that does just that," he tweeted.

GOP leaders are looking to solidify Senate support for the bill, with two Republicans saying they can't support the bill as written.

The final bill will increase the amount of the refundable child tax credit to $1,400, Rep. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemSouth Dakota governor doubles down on 'meth, we're on it' anti-drug campaign South Dakota drops pipeline protest laws after lawsuit New South Dakota law requiring 'In God We Trust' sign to hang in public schools goes into effect MORE (R-S.D.) told reporters Friday, as leaders seek to win the vote of Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCheese, wine importers reeling from Trump trade fight Peace Corps' sudden decision to leave China stirs blowback Lawmakers raise concerns over Russia's growing influence in Venezuela MORE (R-Fla.).

The refundable amount was $1,100 in the Senate-passed tax bill, but Rubio on Thursday said that wasn't good enough. He has threatened to vote against the bill unless the refundable amount of the credit is increased.

It's unclear whether the change will be enough to satisfy him.

A spokeswoman for Rubio said Friday they had not yet seen the text of the bill, but warned that unless the percentage of the refundable credit is significantly higher, Rubio's position would remain the same.

"Can only support bill if % of the 2K #ChildTaxCredit available to #workingclass parents is increased to % meaningfully higher than 55%," Rubio tweeted Friday morning.

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' The 8 Republicans who voted to curb Trump's Iran war powers MORE (R-Utah) said he was undecided about the bill until he saw the increase in the refundable child tax credit. Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerMcConnell, Romney vie for influence over Trump's trial RNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight MORE (R-Tenn.) voted against the Senate tax bill, citing concerns about its impact on the deficit. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSusan Collins in statistical tie with Democratic challenger: poll Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony MORE (R-Maine) voted for the initial bill, but objected to a change that decreases the tax rate for top earners.

The absence of two GOP senators is also creating uncertainty about the timing of the chamber's vote on tax legislation.

Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainAdvice for fellow Democrats: Don't count out Biden, don't fear a brokered convention McSally ties Democratic rival Kelly to Sanders in new ad Eleventh Democratic presidential debate to be held in Phoenix MORE (R-Ariz.) and Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBottom Line Mike Espy announces Mississippi Senate bid Biden has a lot at stake in first debate MORE (R-Miss.) have both missed recent Senate votes, and one of their votes will likely be needed to pass the bill.

Republican leadership signaled on Thursday that the exact timing of the vote, and which chamber will move first, is now being hashed out.

"I don't know the answer to that question. It's all about timing and managing absences in the Senate. ... We're simply being flexible to honor their concerns about managing their schedule and some possible absences," Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Paul Ryan says Biden likely won't get Democratic nomination Judd Gregg: Honey, I Shrunk The Party MORE (R-Wis.) told reporters.

Congress is also scrambling to extend government funding before it expires on Dec. 22. House Republicans introduced legislation on Wednesday that would fund most of the government through mid-January and fund the Defense Department through the end of the 2018 fiscal year.

But Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBarr to testify before House Judiciary panel Graham won't call Barr to testify over Roger Stone sentencing recommendation Roger Stone witness alleges Trump targeted prosecutors in 'vile smear job' MORE (D-N.Y.) warned that proposal is dead on arrival in the Senate, where 44 of the Democratic caucus's 48 members have indicated they won't support it.

Democrats say any increase in defense spending should be equally matched with more funding for nondefense matters.

Congress faces a Dec. 22 deadline to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. Lawmakers also need to get a deal to lift the budget caps before mid-January if they want to avoid automatic spending cuts under sequestration.

President Trump's nominee to lead the Export-Import Bank also appears unlikely to survive a scheduled committee vote in the coming week.

Scott GarrettErnest (Scott) Scott GarrettBiz groups take victory lap on Ex-Im Bank Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations Manufacturers support Reed to helm Ex-Im Bank MORE, a former Republican lawmaker from New Jersey who endured a rough confirmation hearing in November, has yet to secure enough support in the Senate Banking Committee to advance his nomination.

The Senate Banking Committee is holding a hearing on Tuesday to consider Garrett's nomination, along with four other nominees that would provide the bank with a quorum for the first time in two years.

On Tuesday, Banking Committee Chairman Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoErnst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Trump pick for Fed seat takes bipartisan fire On The Money: Economy grows 2.3 percent in 2019, slowest year under Trump | How coronavirus could impact the US economy | Farm bankruptcies jump | Pelosi not ready to back UK trade deal MORE (R-Idaho) said he wouldn't make any predictions about how the vote will go.

"I'll let the senators speak for themselves," Crapo said.

 

Your week ahead:

Tuesday:

Senate Banking Committee: Vote on Scott Garrett to be president, Kimberly Reed to be first vice president, Mark Greenblatt to be inspector general, and Spencer BachusSpencer Thomas BachusManufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Biz groups take victory lap on Ex-Im Bank On The Money: White House files notice of China tariff hikes | Dems cite NYT report in push for Trump tax returns | Trump hits Iran with new sanctions | Trump praises GM for selling shuttered Ohio factory | Ex-Im Bank back at full strength MORE III, Judith Delzoppo Pryor and Claudia Slacik each to be a member of the board of directors, all of the Export-Import Bank, 10 a.m.

 

Recap the week with Overnight Finance:

Monday: Scorekeeper says House tax bill won't pay for itself | Fight over Treasury's analysis of tax plan | GOP worries about tax bill's unpopularity | What's ahead in year end spending fight

Tuesday: GOP eyes raising corporate rate, lowering individual rate | House to link defense spending to stopgap bill | Senate Dems play hardball on funding | House package would delay ObamaCare taxes | Dem AGs blast Mulvaney as consumer chief

Wednesday: GOP leaders strike deal on tax bill | Vote expected next week | Trump makes last pitch for tax bill | Fed hikes rates for third time this year

Thursday: Rubio to vote 'no' unless bill expands child tax credit | Senate absences could delay vote on tax bill | Trump touts deregulation | Labor board overrules joint-employer decision

 

Today's stories:

Ann Coulter rips Rubio for demanding child tax credit increase

GOP changes child tax credit in bid to win Rubio's vote

Bloomberg goes off on GOP tax bill: We CEOs 'don't need the money'

Welfare reform moving to center of Republican agenda

 

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