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GOP to Move Tax Bills During Lame-Duck Session


Brian Whelan

GOP to Move Tax Bills During Lame-Duck Session

Congressional Republicans are looking to move forward with certain legislative tax efforts during Congress’s lame-duck session. The House’s top tax writer, who will hand the reins to Democrats next year, has reportedly outlined several tax measures that will be a priority when lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., during the week of November 12. However, President Donald Trump’s recently touted 10-percent middle-income tax cut does not appear to be one of them.

Democrats Take the House

Republicans will lose their one-party rule in Washington, D.C. in the 116th Congress beginning in January 2019. As a result of the November 6 midterm elections, Democrats will control the House during the next Congress, and Republicans will retain control of the Senate.

Currently, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Tex., serves as chairman of the House’s tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. Republicans’ majority in both chambers of Congress enabled the GOP, in coordination with the Trump administration, to enact tax reform legislation last year. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97) reportedly did not turn out to be as popular as they had hoped. The TCJA’s unpopularity is at least in part why Republicans lost vital seats in the House, according to several reports.

Lame-Duck

Before the turnover of power, however, Brady is reportedly gearing up to introduce a tax extenders measure during the lame-duck session, which would extend certain temporary or expired tax breaks. Generally, Democrats have been supportive of year-end tax extender legislation. At this time, the details of the tax-extender proposal remain unclear.

Additionally, Brady reportedly said on November 7 that a TCJA technical corrections bill with “minor changes” will move in the lame-duck session. Further, the Senate is expected to take up a House-approved retirement savings measure that is part of House Republicans’ “Tax Reform 2.0” efforts.

Looking Forward

House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Richard Neal, D-Mass., is expected to chair the committee in the 116th Congress. Neal has a fairly moderate tax-legislative record, and is considered on Capitol Hill to be “business-friendly.” To that end, Neal has recently sponsored several retirement savings measures, which would enhance employer workplace savings accounts. Additionally, infrastructure and tax-related health care initiatives are expected to be a priority among House Democrats.

GOP Retains Senate

Republicans will continue to lead the Senate in the 116th Congress. While the GOP Senate majority may not be enough to approve additional GOP tax legislation, it is likely to prevent Democrats from repealing parts of the TCJA. However, it is expected on Capitol Hill that hearings will be held in both chambers’ tax writing committees to examine various provisions of the new tax law. Although a divided Congress can result in fewer tax bills being approved, successful legislation will likely be bipartisan.