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Posts in "Taxes"
July 9, 2014
The House Republican plan to prevent, through the middle of next year, the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund is drawing grumbles from both the left and the right, but there is increasing recognition that Congress has little choice but to enact it, or something like it.
Resignation that passing a short-term extension is likely the only way to avoid an August shutdown of transportation projects across the country was on full display Wednesday, the eve of a markup of the new proposal in the House Ways and Means Committee.
“It’s the only proposal out there,” Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., told reporters Wednesday afternoon in defense of his bill.
June 19, 2014
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn’t appear to think that there was foul play in the Internal Revenue Service’s misplacement of key emails from Lois Lerner, the ex-agency official at the center of the ongoing IRS scandal.
At her weekly press conference Thursday morning, the California Democrat said her takeaway from reports that Lerner’s emails have been lost forever was simply that the IRS needs to upgrade its technology infrastructure.
June 9, 2014
Activists cheered a House vote last month to bar the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. It was a watershed moment for pro-marijuana advocates — and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — who have been waiting for years for Congress to take an affirmative up-or-down vote on any related issue.
But in the afterglow of this long-sought legislative victory, it’s not clear just what comes next. Will bipartisan support for the measure, adopted as an amendment to the House’s fiscal 2015 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill, inspire future action in the chamber? Will the Senate, poised in the weeks ahead to consider its own C-J-S bill, follow the House’s lead?
May 20, 2014
In a speech that is almost certain to stoke speculation he is running for House speaker, Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling slammed Washington insiders and special interests during an address at the Heritage Foundation Tuesday.
Less than two hours after the Heritage Foundation suffered one of its harshest congressional rebukes ever — more representatives broke from the advice of Heritage Action than ever before, with only four Republicans voting against a water resources bill — Hensarling came to Heritage’s Massachusetts Avenue offices to praise the foundation and condemn a boogeyman called Washington, D.C.
The Texas Republican did nothing to allay the concerns of K Street or Wall Street that he won’t work with special interests to protect some of Washington’s favorite carve-outs. In fact, Hensarling consistently demonized the “Washington insider economy.” Full story
May 12, 2014
John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, asked about using his power as speaker of the House to order the arrest of Lois Lerner, told Fox News he doesn’t think invoking the “inherent contempt” clause is appropriate.
The speaker, in an interview with Maria Baritomo that aired on “Sunday Morning Futures,” said it’s up to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to arrest Lois Lerner, the former Internal Revenue Service official the House voted to hold in contempt last week.
“Will he do it? We don’t know. But the ball is in his court,” Boehner said.
But, as CQ Roll Call’s Katy O’Donnell reported April 29, the speaker has the power, upheld by the Supreme Court, to order the Capitol Police to arrest Lerner and hold her for trial. Full story
May 7, 2014
The House voted Wednesday to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress and to instruct the Justice Department to probe her for criminal charges.
The actions mark the culmination of two simultaneous committee investigations into allegations that Lerner knowingly presided over the improper targeting of conservative outside groups seeking tax-exempt status with the agency, including stalling the application process and giving special scrutiny to organizations that appeared to be affiliated with the tea party movement.
One resolution (H Res 574), agreed to on a 231-187 vote, will make Lerner the sixth public official since 1982 to be held in contempt for her refusal to testify before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Lerner cited her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in an appearance last year.
The other resolution (H Res 565), referred by the Ways and Means Committee and supported Wednesday by a 250-168 vote, would call upon Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to appoint a special prosecutor to evaluate whether Lerner should face criminal charges on specific counts of misconduct related to the scandal. Full story
May 6, 2014
The White House never instructed the Internal Revenue Service to specifically target conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, according to a report released on Tuesday at the behest of Maryland Democrat Elijah E. Cummings.
The report, which makes public “key portions” of all the interviews conducted by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee of 39 IRS and Treasury Department employees and officials, is the ranking member’s latest effort to expose the GOP’s yearlong investigation as politically motivated.
Its release is well-timed: The House this week is scheduled to vote on two resolutions implicating former senior IRS official Lois Lerner in the scandal — one would hold her in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the other would call for the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to probe Lerner on criminal charges. Full story
May 5, 2014
Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips has a message for House Republicans: When the Export-Import Bank approaches its Sept. 30 expiration date, do nothing.
“We’re asking Congress to do something it does exceeding well,” Phillips wryly told a room of allies and reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday. “Just don’t do anything.”
The call to inaction was echoed by several other speakers on hand representing Heritage Action for America, Americans for Tax Reform and FreedomWorks, among others. The coalition of conservative groups strongly oppose the reauthorization of the institution designed to help U.S. companies finance goods for sales overseas, which they call anachronistic, a slush fund, corporate welfare and “cronyism.”
The Monday gathering in the Rayburn House Office Building also kicked off what is expected to be a coordinated campaign to push lawmakers — especially Republicans who have the majority in the House — to reject the Ex-Im Bank’s reauthorization. The Obama administration is backing a five-year extension for the bank, along with a lift to its lending cap to $160 billion through September 2019.
Outside groups are poised to issue key votes, buy air time against noncommittal members and inundate town halls during the decisive August recess ahead of the midterm elections in November. Last week, 30 conservative organizations signed onto a letter articulating their opposition.
“All too often the Republican Party is … tagged as being the party of corporate welfare and big business. This is an opportunity to flip that on its head,” Heritage Action Communications Director Dan Holler said at the event on Monday. “Think about an election cycle where Republicans can … credibly claim that they are in Washington fighting against corporate welfare. That’s a game changer for a lot of voters.
“It’s great policy,” Holler continued, “and the politics will follow.” Full story
March 24, 2014
Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp is pushing ahead with an incremental approach on tax reform for now.
In a memo to committee colleagues on Monday, the Michigan Republican said he planned to take several steps over the next several months, “pav[ing] the way for tax reform by making incremental progress towards full reform.”
In addition to holding “bipartisan meetings with the staff of the [Joint Committee on Taxation] until we have walked through the entire draft” and convening “public hearings on specific portions of the bill,” Camp said that the panel would mark up “permanent legislation” to address the so-called tax extenders which expire every year. Full story
March 4, 2014
Majority Leader Eric Cantor is dithering about bringing up legislation to stave off massive pay cuts for doctors set to begin at the end the month, as he worries about political consequences should hospital and nursing home budgets be slashed to pay for the costly bill.
Members and staff sources told CQ Roll Call that the Virginia Republican is concerned dipping into hospital and nursing home coffers would make Republicans vulnerable to election-year political attacks, especially as they try to convince the public that President Barack Obama’s health care law has negatively affected seniors’ health care.
The indecision demonstrates the contradiction of governing during an election year. Republicans have said they want to avoid pushing off must-pass legislation until its deadline, wary of public opinion after October’s partial government shutdown. But they are equally wary of giving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., any ammo for the midterms or angering powerful lobbying groups, in this case those representing hospitals.
“It’s been yes, no and I think they’re back looking at maybe,” said Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., a member of the House Republicans Doctors Caucus, a group of members who focus on health care issues.
Though the issue is hardly a cliff of government shutdown proportions, it does present Congress with a mini-crisis at month’s end.
February 28, 2014
House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan has said he wants the Ways and Means Committee gavel next year, but the Wisconsin Republican will face a challenge from Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas.
Brady, the current chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, told columnist Al Hunt in an interview that will air Friday evening that he wants the top slot on the Ways and Means Committee, where he is currently the No. 2 Republican.
Reigning Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., must relinquish his title next year due to term limits.
February 26, 2014
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp released his long-awaited rewrite of the nation’s tax code into a hostile political environment Wednesday afternoon, earning plaudits for his audacity, but little backing for moving the plan this year.
Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and top party leaders received Camp with pats on the back, but largely kept their hands off the substance of the bill.
“Chairman Camp’s worked on this for years. It’s time to have a public discussion about the issue of tax reform, and so I welcome the conversation,” Boehner told reporters earlier in the day. Full story
Hours ahead of the rollout, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio declined to endorse Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp’s plan for a rewrite of the country’s tax code.
Pressed repeatedly on whether he supports the bill that the Camp, R-Mich., will unveil Wednesday afternoon, Boehner said only that it is a “discussion draft” that will begin a “conversation” about the issues.
February 19, 2014
House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp appears determined to take one last stab at making good on his promise to pass an overhaul of the nation’s tax code by the end of the 113th Congress.
On Wednesday, the Michigan Republican told GOP members of the committee that he would, next week, release a “comprehensive discussion draft” of a tax code rewrite, one that would make the tax code “simpler and fairer for families and employers, and … strengthen our economy — meaning higher wages and more take home pay for the American worker.”
“It is time to make a choice,” said Camp in his email to colleagues, obtained by CQ Roll Call. “We can choose to have a real discussion about what tax reform can mean for American families and employers or we can choose to cower to special interests and maintain the status quo. Clearly, I choose the former.”
Though Camp’s decision to unveil his draft legislation marks a turning point for proponents of overhauling the tax code on both sides of the aisle, the political odds remain stacked against him. Full story
January 8, 2014
Democrats may have taken up income inequality as their election-year campaign platform, but Republicans appear determined to not let their counterparts own the subject.
To the annoyance of some Democrats, six members of the conservative Republican Study Committee held a news conference Wednesday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the “war on poverty” and to call for a different tactic to address indigence in this nation — one that is leaner on direct aid and more robust in job creation.
“While this war may have been launched with the best of intentions, it’s clear we’re now engaged in a battle of attrition that has left more Americans in poverty than at any other point in our nation’s history,” Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., said at the beginning of the news conference, noting that more than 46 million Americans live in poverty today. He did not point out, however, that even though the raw number of poverty-stricken people has increased, the percentage of poor Americans has fallen from 19 percent when President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his “unconditional war on poverty” in 1964 to about 15 percent today.
Southerland, the chairman of the RSC’s anti-poverty initiative, said that in the 50 years of the war on poverty, the government has spent more than $15 trillion on programs designed to combat those issues.
“Clearly, the big government ideas of the past need to be improved and aren’t working to the extent that they should,” Southerland said. ”We have a moral obligation to break the mold.”
Southerland said there were three pillars to fighting poverty: two-parent families, quality education and a stable job.
“Over the next year, we will be bringing interested members together to discuss conservative solutions that empower individuals and not the federal government,” he said. Full story