Senate takes up tax reform, healthcare legislation

Two issues that will significantly impact every individual and business owner are beginning to gather steam in Congress: tax reform and healthcare legislation.

Healthcare

As reported by Reuters, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) plans before the end of the month to bring up for a vote in the Senate the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). The bill, sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), along with Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV), Ron Johnson (R-WI) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), would replace Obamacare with a block grant given annually to states to help individuals pay for health care. A spokesperson for McConnell said, “It is the leader’s intention to consider Graham/Cassidy on the floor next week.”

Previously, Cassidy, one of the bill’s sponsors, had said, “Mitch has said that if we get 50 votes, he’ll hold a vote.”

In the face of united Democratic opposition to repealing Obamacare, Republicans, who only control the Senate by a 52-48 margin, need to use the reconciliation process to move the bill on a simple majority through the Senate and avoid a filibuster. At least 50 Republican senators (with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote) will need to support the bill. Further, the legislative tool that allows reconciliation will expire Sept. 30, which is the end of the government’s fiscal year, making the timeframe for passing the bill without any bipartisan support extremely limited. Of course, even if it is approved in the Senate, any legislation would also have to be passed by the House.

Update (9/26/17): The vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill was dropped when it became clear not enough Senators would vote in favor.

Tax reform

Senate Republicans have reached a tentative budget deal that could allow tax reform legislation to eliminate as much as $1.5 trillion in revenues over 10 years through tax cuts, raising the odds that their planned tax overhaul would expand the federal deficit. The prospective tax cuts are part of closed-door talks among 12 Senate Budget Committee Republicans who are drafting a fiscal 2018 budget measure needed to help Republicans pass a tax overhaul package in the Senate through the reconciliation process. Reconciliation would allow the budget resolution to pass with as few as 51 Republican votes and would prevent Democrats from blocking the legislation with a filibuster.

Source: RIA Checkpoint, Reuters

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