Budget & Appropriations – Controversial Short-Term Funding Bill Released

On December 13, House Republicans released a funding bill which would fund the government through Jan. 19, 2018. This continuing resolution (CR) includes large defense funding increases and leaves out the two Affordable Care Act market stabilization proposals (Alexander-Murray and Collins-Nelson) that Maine Senator Susan Collins had negotiated in exchange for her vote on the tax bill. While the bill does include a full five-year re-authorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and a two-year re-authorization for Community Health Centers, it proposes harmful offsets to Medicare and Medicaid to fund those provisions. The bill is not expected to garner the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. The current CR expires on Dec. 22, setting the stage for a possible government shutdown if Congress fails to reach agreement on a funding bill.

Budget & Appropriations/Tax Policy – Welcome Delay on Tax Bill Provides More Time for Disability Advocates to Continue Opposing Harmful Legislation

Action on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has slowed this week with the announcement that the House would not be voting on a revised tax bill this week as had originally been planned. Instead, a House-Senate conference meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, December 13. It is expected to be a relatively brief meeting allowing the Conference Committee Members to make short statements while the actual negotiations continue in private. According to press reports, the major areas of disagreement are: the alternative minimum tax, pass-through business income, the corporate tax rate, the child tax credit, deductions for state and local taxes (referred to as SALT deductions), and individual tax brackets. The Conference Committee must also resolve the differences in the major provisions that are problematic for people with disabilities.

Advocates have more time to reach out to Members of Congress to oppose this harmful legislation. The Arc’s network is urged to participate in today’s National Call Day on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that The Arc is cosponsoring and to continue advocating throughout the week. See action alert above.

Budget & Appropriations – Short Term Funding Bill Introduced to Avert a Government Shutdown

House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) over the weekend introduced a two-week continuing resolution (CR) that would extend all provisions in the previous CR until December 22. The measure also includes temporary aid for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The current CR runs though Friday, December 8. Chairman Frelinghuysen confirmed reports that the two-week CR is meant to allow lawmakers more time to reach a deal on increasing the spending caps for defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs. NDD programs include many programs that benefit people with disabilities such as education, housing, employment, and transportation programs.

Budget & Appropriations/Tax Policy – House and Senate to Negotiate Differences Between Tax Bills That Would Harm People with Disabilities

The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on moving forward with a conference committee today to iron out the differences between the tax bills that both chambers passed. The House passed its bill on November 16 and the Senate narrowly passed (51 to 49) its bill in the early morning hours of December 2. Both bills, named the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, make significant changes to the tax code for both individuals and corporations. Both would add about $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years, increasing pressure to cut Medicaid and other programs to pay for the tax cuts that disproportionately benefit upper income individuals and large corporations. The Senate bill goes further by effectively repealing the individual mandate for people to have health insurance which is projected to result in 13 million fewer people with health care coverage and increase premiums by 10%. Click here to read a description of the major differences in the House and Senate bills and click here to see the differences in key provisions for people with disabilities. The Arc’s statement on the Senate’s passage of its tax bill can be found here.

Advocates are urged to turn their attention to their representatives in the House to oppose the bills TODAY. The House and Senate need to pass the identical bills in order for a measure to become law. It is still possible that the House may simply pass the version the Senate passed on Saturday morning. If this were to happen, the President is all but certain to sign the measure and it will become law. Therefore, the time to act is now. See action alert.

Budget & Appropriations – Senate Committee Releases Tax Bill Description

The Senate Finance Committee released a description of its tax bill shortly after the House Ways and Means Committee approved its own bill on November 9. While The Arc is pleased to see that the Senate bill does not repeal the medical expense deduction that assists approximately 9 million Americans with high medical expenses to meet their needs, The Arc opposes the bill. The measure would substantially reduce revenue, paving the way for huge cuts in the programs people with disabilities rely on, and disproportionately benefits upper income earner and corporations. Click here to see a comparison between the House and Senate tax bills. See our shared principles for tax reform.

Budget & Appropriations/Tax Policy – House Committee Passes Tax Bill

On November 9, the House Ways and Means Committee voted along partisan lines to advance H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Arc opposes this bill because it would reduce revenue by $1.5 trillion over 10 years, thereby increasing pressure to cut Medicaid and other programs. In addition, The Arc opposes the measure’s disproportionate benefit to wealthy individuals and corporations and its repeal of expenditures that benefit people with disabilities – the medical and dental expense deduction, the work opportunity tax credit, and the disabled access tax credit. The bill also modifies Section 529 education savings accounts to cover elementary and high school expenses of up to $10,000 per year and removes income limits. Such a change would allow for wealthy individuals to receive a tax benefit for sending their child to private schools, which are not required to accept or provide a free and appropriate education to students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (read more here). Click here for a section-by-section summary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and click here to read the statement from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Fiscal Policy Task Force on the bill’s advancement.

Budget & Appropriations/Tax Policy – House Committee Begins Mark Up of Tax Bill

The Ways and Means Committee begins its markup of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act today.  The Arc opposes this bill as it does not meet our shared principles for tax reform.  The Arc is also concerned that Congress may add repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that people purchase health insurance when the bill is considered by the committee.

Budget & Appropriations/Tax Policy – House Releases Harmful Tax Bill

On November 3, the House Ways and Means Committee released its tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1).  While the bill does not include cuts to Medicaid or other federal programs, The Arc opposes this bill due to the $1.5 trillion over 10 years that the bill would add to the deficit, thereby increasing pressure to cut Medicaid and other programs in the future.  In addition, The Arc opposes the measure’s disproportionate benefit to wealthy individuals and corporations and it’s repeal of expenditures that benefit people with disabilities – the medical and dental expense deduction, the work opportunity tax credit, and the disabled access tax credit.  The bill also modifies Section 529 education savings accounts to cover elementary and high school expenses of up to $10,000 per year and removes income limits. Such a change would allow for wealthy individuals to receive a tax benefit for sending their child to private schools, which are not required to accept or provide a free and appropriate education to student with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (read more here).  Click here for a section-by-section summary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and click here to read the statement from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) on the bill.

Budget & Appropriations – House Passes Senate FY 2018 Budget Resolution, Setting the Stage for Tax Cuts and Possible Program Cuts

On October 26, the House passed the fiscal year (FY) 2018 Senate Budget Resolution (H. Con Res 71, as amended) by a vote of 216 to 212. Since the House simply passed the Senate’s budget rather than going to conference to negotiate the significant differences between the chambers’ bills, the timeframe for a tax reform bill has been speeded up. Though the Budget Resolution is not a binding document, it provides a blueprint for federal spending and revenues for the next decade and authorizes certain committee and Congressional action for this fiscal year. The final Budget Resolution provides instructions to the Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committees allowing them to develop legislation that increases the deficit by up to $1.5 trillion over 10 years. That legislation would only require a simple majority (51 or 50 plus the tie-breaking vote of the Vice President) in the Senate to pass during FY 18. In addition to taxation, the Finance Committee has jurisdiction over Medicaid, Medicare, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and other health and human services programs. The House Ways and Means Committee has jurisdiction over taxation and several health and human services programs (see list). The Senate budget assumes, but does not require, over $5 trillion in program cuts, including a nearly 30% cut in inflation adjusted dollars to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs. Fortunately, however, 60 votes will be needed in the Senate to change the caps for defense and NDD programs established by the Budget Control Act of 2011.