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NAM, U.S. Chamber Among Groups Pushing to Accelerate Tax Reform

The National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are among groups urging Congress to quickly write and pass tax reform legislation.

“You now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to substantially improve America’s economy, but accomplishing this task may well require the special legislative procedures attendant to a budget resolution’s reconciliation instructions,” the group’s letter sent Wednesday says. “No initiative likely to be considered in this Congress offers more promise than comprehensive tax reform to accelerate out of the current pattern of slow economic growth.”

U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, Joshua Bolten, president & CEO of The Business Roundtable, and Juanita D. Duggan, president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, signed the letter.

The letter was sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

“As the leaders of the nation’s preeminent business associations representing businesses of all industries, interests, forms, and sizes in all 50 states, we urge you to reach common agreement on a tax reform plan and move quickly to enact tax reform legislation,” the letter states. “The federal tax code has weighed America down for far too long.”

The Hill reports that the Senate “is actively considering health care legislation, but it is important that the House start the budget process now, so that reconciliation instructions will be available to move tax reform legislation expediently.”


TRUMP TO REPEAL OBAMA’S LAND-GRABBING WATER BILL

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce this week reported that the Trump Administration announced it will repeal the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

The Chamber quoted a Wall Street Journal article that said the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, are proposing a new rule to rescind the Obama administration’s WOTUS and return to the regulation language before its 2015 adoption.

That action “would provide certainty in the interim” while a new rule-making process is undertaken, the Journal reported. Property developers, chemical manufacturers and oil-and -gas producers also have voiced opposition to the rule, which they argue is an intrusion on property owners’ rights and impedes economic growth.

Trump signed an executive order in late February directing the EPA to review the WOTUS rule based on a much narrower interpretation of “navigable waters” based on a 2006 Supreme Court opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia.

The rule expanded the definition of federally-regulated waters so it could bring in ditches, canals, collection ponds, and isolated wetlands that aren’t even close to navigable waters, the Chamber said. Before building or making modifications on their land, farmers, ranchers, and businesses have had to hire consultants and lawyers to get costly federal permits.


SENATE LEADER WANTS TO MOVE HEALTH CARE REPEAL TO FRONT BURNER

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to send a revised health insurance bill to the Congressional Budget Office as soon as today and seeks a vote before Congress’s August recess.

The effort reflects the tight timeline McConnell faces in his attempt to hold a vote in July along with garnering enough support to pass it. Senate leaders are trying to mollify different factions within the Senate with a rewrite of the Affordable Care Act in order to engineer a win.

Conservatives have asked for the lifting of coverage mandates to lower premiums and requested higher limits on tax exemptions for health-savings accounts. Moderates asked for more generous tax credits for the working classes and a gentler phaseout of the expansion of Medicaid that their states have enjoyed under the Affordable Care Act, the Washington Post reported.

Senate Republican leaders on Tuesday decided to postpone a vote after opposition surfaced. McConnell is trying to get new information by the time lawmakers return to Washington in mid-July.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

House Committee Bill Would Slow Ozone Regulations
The Hill (Henry 6/28) “A House committee approved a bill Wednesday slowing the implementation of federal ozone regulations. The legislation, from Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas), would instruct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update its limits on ozone pollution every 10 years rather than every 5 years, the current timeline. Supporters of the bill say it would help localities comply with existing ozone standards before federal regulators issue newer, stricter limits on the pollutant.

“The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the bill on a 29-24 vote, sending it to the floor for a second straight session. The House passed the bill last year but with President Obama in the White House, it stalled before going through the Senate. The measure comes as the Trump EPA says it will reconsider and possibly repeal the ozone standards set by Obama administration regulators in 2015.

“The EPA formally delayed implementation of the 2015 rule on Wednesday, saying it will not make final decisions on which areas of the country are out of compliance with the ozone limits until October 2018. Public health groups generally support instituting tighter limits on ozone, though conservatives and manufacturers warn that the regulations present expensive and difficult compliance problems.

“‘The bill also takes positive steps to address manufacturers’ permitting challenges as they pertain to ozone standards and requires real examination of the impact of international air pollution on domestic ozone levels’, said Ross Eisenberg, a vice president at the National Association of Manufacturers, which has led the industry fight against ozone rules.”

Manufacturers Want Trump to Focus on Infrastructure
Industry Week (Field 6/29) “Nearly half of the 1,500 manufacturing and supply chain professionals recently surveyed by IndustryWeek and Penton Research say that investment in U.S. infrastructure should be a top priority for the Trump Administration, winning by a wide margin over other initiatives making headlines like tax and health care reform and immigration policy.

“That’s good news for President Trump, who in early June began a major push for his proposed $1 trillion investment to modernize America’s aging infrastructure, including roads and bridges, waterways and wastewater facilities, and the electrical grid. A majority of respondents believe spending on roads and bridges (90%) should take precedence, followed by the electric grid and renewables (73%), and waste and wastewater (65%) facilities.

“‘Making America Great means having a great infrastructure,’ said one respondent. ‘The USA is part of a global economy, and in order to be competitive we require adequate infrastructure that allows the movement of parts, supplies and finished goods easily and economically’.

“The manufacturing industry’s enthusiasm for infrastructure projects likely stems from the belief that it will have a direct and positive impact on business. Some 71% of survey respondents said that a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure would have a moderate to significant, positive impact on their business. Moreover, 20% said that it already has.”

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Dana Beyerle
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