We entered 2017 with a lot of optimism, and so far, we have not been disappointed. Congress has moved fast, and is making significant progress on a number of the business community’s top priorities.
Among other things, the House has included many of the business community’s priorities in its recently introduced health care legislation, and the House and Senate have already taken steps to repeal many of the ill-advised regulations released in the final days of the Obama Administration. Furthermore, the Chamber is busy working with Congress to develop a comprehensive plan to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
There is still plenty of work to do before we can declare victory. But, we like what we have seen so far, and we are encouraged that Congress and the president have been so receptive to our priorities.
Read more below on what’s been going on. And, don’t forget to make plans to attend this year’s Regional Government Affairs Conference in Chicago on October 25th, 26th, and 27th.
Maggie, Kevin & Ben
Great Lakes Regional Office
American Health Care Act
Early last week, House Republicans released the text of the “American Health Care Act” (AHCA), which would be the first step to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. The legislation advances many of the business community’s health care priorities, including the repeal of many of the Affordable Care Act’s harmful taxes. Furthermore, it protects the current employer-sponsored health care system on which 177 million Americans rely.
The Chamber sent a letter of support to the House Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce committees prior to their mark ups of the legislation last Wednesday. In it, the Chamber expressed its specific support for the AHCA’s repeal of the health insurance tax, the medical device tax, and the tax on prescription medications. Additionally, the Chamber indicated its support for provisions in the bill raising contribution levels and lifting restrictions on the use of health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts, as well as zeroing out the penalties associated with the employer mandate. Finally, the AHCA delays the 40 percent Cadillac tax until 2025. While the further delay is welcome, the Chamber will continue to work with Congress to eventually repeal the tax completely.
Both the Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce committees voted in favor of the legislation. It now moves to the House Budget Committee for further consideration.
Regulatory Roll Backs
Congress has been flexing its muscle to review and rescind many recent rules using the Congressional Review Act (CRA). U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue applauds their work and says the “U.S. Chamber will continue to push lawmakers to use the CRA to undo ill-conceived 11th hour rules”. Read President Donohue’s full article, “Regulatory Relief Is on the Way” .
Here is a list of the regulatory rules Congress has voted on, and whose repeal the Chamber supports:
HJ Res 36: The BLM Venting and Flaring Rule – signed by President Trump
HJ Res 37: The Federal Contracts Blacklisting Rule – has passed the House and Senate
HJ Res 38: The Stream Buffer Rule – signed by President Trump
HJ Res 44: The BLM Planning 2.0 Rule – has passed the House and Senate
HJ Res 66 and 67:The DOL Safe Harbor Regulations– both have passed the House
HJ Res 83: The OSHA Volks Rule – has passed the House
Making the Case for Infrastructure
The U.S. Chamber believes America is on the verge of a once in a generation opportunity to modernize the nation’s infrastructure. Both President Trump and many Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have indicated their desire to make long overdue investments. The Chamber’s Ed Mortimer, Executive Director for Transportation Infrastructure, testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee last week to discuss the condition of our nation’s transportation system, recently graded a D+, and how Congress can do to improve it.
As the process moves forward, the Chamber believes any package should include the following:
Read more of Ed Mortimer’s testimony in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, here.
2017 Regional Government Affairs Conference
Join us this year in Chicago, IL for our 2017 Regional Government Affairs Conference, October 25-27. Hotel reservation information can be found on our 2017 Regional Government Affairs Conference Website. Stay tuned for conference registration information in the upcoming weeks. We look forward to seeing you there!