House Sends 10-Week Stopgap Spending Bill to President


Congress this week avoided a government shutdown – at least until early December – by passing a 10-week budget extension. The House late Wednesday voting 342-85 sent the measure to President Obama for his signature in order to avoid a government shutdown after today.

The Obama administration said it supported passage of the continuing budget resolution, which the Senate previously approved 72-36. The successful votes essentially end Congress’s business until after the November elections.

The votes were in contrast to weeks of battles over whether money to fight the Zika virus should be made available to Planned Parenthood locations in Puerto Rico and over emergency aid for stricken Flint, Mich.

Congressional leaders committed to financially help Flint’s contaminated water system in subsequent legislation expected to clear in the lame-duck session after the elections, Roll Call reported.

Other sticking points will pop up again in spending negotiations come December, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said. “This short time frame will allow Congress to complete our annual appropriations work without jeopardizing important government functions,” Rogers said.

In addition to authorizing Fiscal 2016 spending for programs through Dec. 9, the continuing resolution includes $1.1 billion to respond to the Zika virus, $500 million in flood relief for Louisiana and other states, and full fiscal 2017 appropriations for military construction and veterans.

“It’s not perfect, but it ensures we meet our nation’s critical needs,” Rep. Rogers said.


A Sly Death Tax Hike: Family-Owned Businesses in the Cross Hairs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Harris 9/28) “New changes to estate tax regulations will make it harder to keep family businesses open. In early April, Treasury issued proposed and temporary regulations hampering the ability of American companies to compete globally by limiting their ability to restructure. The Chamber responded with a lawsuit challenging the Treasury’s unilateral rewriting of the Internal Revenue Code and decision to steamroll over the Administrative Procedure Act.

“On the same exact day, changes from proposed debt-equity rules rocked the business community prompting both Chamber written comments and testimony warning of the detrimental impacts of these rules and urging revision to prevent unnecessary harm to the business community. And, on August 2, 2016, continuing what one might call the “Regulatory Tax Summer of Love” tour, Treasury issued proposed rules instituting one of the most sweeping changes to estate tax regulations in the last 25 years. These proposed rules change how minority valuation discounts work in the context of closely held, family-owned businesses.

“Minority discounts are important because they promote the continuation of family businesses by making it advantageous to transfer interests during life to the children, which makes them more inclined to stay with the business, as compared to the parents holding on to assets during their lives and giving them up only at death which often results in the business closing. These discounts promote the flow of wealth to younger generations, which is good for the economy and the continuation of family businesses.

“Unfortunately, the IRS issued rules complicating how families can pass businesses on to the next generation. Today, the U.S. Chamber, joined by more than 3,800 trade associations, state and local chambers, and businesses, spoke out, sending a letter to the IRS, Capitol Hill leadership, and congressional tax-writing committees highlighting the detrimental impacts on family-owned businesses that employ millions of workers throughout the country.

“As a result, the Chamber and all other signatories are calling for complete withdraw of these rules, noting the negative impact of the proposal on jobs, investment, and economic growth. This letter is only the first salvo in our fight to protect closely held, family owned businesses, the backbone of our economy and our job creators.”

(Caroline L. Harris is vice president, tax policy, and chief tax policy counsel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Business Council of Alabama is the sole representative of the U.S. Chamber in Alabama.)