The U.S. House postponed Thursday’s planned vote on an Obamacare replacement as the White House moved to shore up conservative support. House Republicans planned to meet behind closed doors later to figure out their next steps, the Washington Post said. Leaders have told the rank and file to be available Friday in the event a vote can be scheduled then.
AL.com reported Thursday that five of the seven House members said they will vote to replace Obamacare with a Republican-backed health insurance plan. The five include two who said they changed their minds after meeting with President Donald Trump last week. According to al.com, those who planned to vote yes were U.S. Reps. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, Bradley Byrne, R-Fairhope, Gary Palmer, R-Hoover, Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks. Planning to vote no were Reps. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, and Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham.
Rep. Brooks said the legislation isn’t conservative enough and that the president’s push for votes is focused on politics and not policy. “I find my friendships with people an unpersuasive reason to do damage to the American people,” he said.
Rep. Sewell was the only Alabama House member to strongly support Obamacare. “I’m speaking out because TrumpCare would leave more than 100k Alabamians w/o coverage,” she tweeted.
Aderholt said he had concerns about how older, poorer voters would fare. “After receiving the president’s word that these concerns will be addressed, I changed my vote to yes,” Aderholt said.
Rep. Byrne supported the bill before Trump made his pitch. “I have pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare since being elected to Congress, and I remain committed to honoring that pledge,” he said.
Rep. Palmer met with President Trump and said he had changed his mind after amendments made the legislation more acceptable to conservatives. “The Trump administration and Republican leadership have since made a number of concessions that I believe would improve the bill, improvements that President Trump assured me he supports and that justify my support,” he said in a statement.
Rep. Roby was an early supporter of the Obamacare replacement. “In response, I made a promise; the same promise President Trump and every conservative in Congress has made over and over: Give us the majority in the House and Senate, give us a Republican in the White House, and we will repeal Obamacare and replace it with reforms that work,” she said.
Rogers said Wednesday that he’ll support the bill. “With President Trump’s strong leadership and Congressional action, Americans will finally experience relief from the crushing weight that is Obamacare,” Rogers said.
REGULATION REFORM IS URGENTLY NEEDED
As the momentum builds in Washington for reform to make regulations smarter, simpler, and streamlined, the National Association of Manufacturers has released a new study that demonstrates the urgent need for change.
The study’s synopsis says that manufacturers face nearly 300,000 costly regulations.
The full study says that an average of 3,300 new regulations are issued each year, including between 66 and 99 “major” regulations. Each has an estimated impact of at least $100 million or more in a single year and a few have an estimated impact of more than $1 billion in a single year, the NAM said.
Together, old and new federal regulations impose annual costs in the hundreds of billions of dollars, maybe more, maybe less, because of uncertainty. It’s a fact that regulations pose significant compliance challenges; and resources spent complying with a mandatory requirement cannot be spent on valuable discretionary activities such as market and product innovation.
U.S. CHAMBER SCORES CONGRESSIONAL VOTING
The Chamber ranked members of Congress for key business votes that are described in its annual publication, “How They Voted.” Votes included are Chamber-designated “key votes” – recorded floor votes on issues established as priorities by the Chamber’s board of directors, on which the Chamber communicates its position prior to the vote.
All of Alabama’s members of Congress have at least a 50 percent-plus voting record as tallied by the U.S. Chamber. (U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, R-Mountain Brook, who succeeded U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, is not part of the survey since he became a senator only after Sessions was confirmed as U.S. Attorney General this year.)
The BCA is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s exclusive representative in Alabama. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business organization representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions. Members range from mom-and-pop shops and local chambers to leading industry associations and large corporations. They all count on the Chamber to be their voice in Washington, D.C.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
IRS Formally Establishes Fast Track Settlement Program for Small Businesses
AccountingToday (Cohn 3/22) “The Internal Revenue Service has issued a revenue procedure permanently establishing its Small Business/Self Employed Fast Track Settlement program, after pilot-testing the program in recent years. Revenue Procedure 2017-25 establishes the SB/SE FTS to provide an expedited way to resolve tax disputes with taxpayers who work for themselves or at small companies. The program allows SB/SE taxpayers who currently have disputed factual or legal issues in at least one open year under IRS examination to work together with the IRS’s SB/SE division and the Office of Appeals to resolve the disputed issues while the case is still under the jurisdiction of the SB/SE division.
“The program is modeled after a similar program that has long been available to larger businesses with more than $10 million in assets. The FTS program uses alternative dispute resolution techniques to help taxpayers save time and avoid a formal administrative appeal or lengthy litigation. Audit issues can usually be resolved within 60 days, rather than months or years, according to the IRS. The program is no longer available for cases under the jurisdiction of the IRS’s Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division because the IRS established a permanent, separate fast track settlement program for TE/GE taxpayers in 2012. The IRS has also added a good faith requirement that bars taxpayers who fail to respond to the IRS or provide documentation.” (There are also other restrictions.)
U.S. Chamber Urges Quick Vote on USTR Nominee Lighthizer
The HILL (Needham 3/22) “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee urging panel leaders to quickly approve the nomination of Robert Lighthizer to become the next U.S. trade representative as Democratic and Republican lawmakers grapple over a way forward.
“‘As members of the Senate Finance Committee know, international trade is essential to America’s prosperity, and it is imperative that we do more to open foreign markets to American-made manufactured goods, agricultural products and services’, said Myron Brilliant, the Chamber’s executive vice president and head of international affairs, in the letter to committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
“Lighthizer testified on March 14 before the Finance Committee, but his nomination is in a holding pattern while panel Democrats insist that he needs a waiver for confirmation and that such a waiver should be attached to legislation providing health and pension benefits for coal miners. ‘This kind of legislative hostage-taking certainly is not unheard of in the Senate, but in the context of consideration of a nominee for the Office of U.S. Trade Representative, it is totally unprecedented’.
Lighthizer seems to otherwise have enough support to clear the committee if panel members can reach an agreement on how to proceed. The Chamber said that the 69-year-old Washington trade lawyer has ‘led a distinguished career as a trade policy practitioner’ and ‘has a reputation as a staunch advocate for American industry’. ‘The Chamber believes he will represent the nation’s interests well as he works with international partners and addresses trade challenges at the negotiating table and before the World Trade Organization’.”