Senate Approves Budget Resolution, Opens Door for Tax Reform

In a 51-49 vote, the Senate on Thursday voted to approve a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions that allows tax reform legislation to move forward.

The budget plan calls for $5 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade, including cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare; however it is nonbinding.

The budget resolution is the first step that Republicans will use to pass tax reform legislation via a process called reconciliation, which allows the bill to be approved by the Senate with a simple majority vote instead of the 60-vote threshold. Once the budget plan clears Congress, the House and Senate can then advance the tax reform measure without facing a Senate filibuster.

In September, the Business Council of Alabama signed a U.S. Chamber of Commerce-led coalition letter delivered to all Members of Congress, urging Congress to seize this “once-in-a-generation opportunity” for tax reform.

To gain support for the tax plan, President Trump invited vulnerable lawmakers to a White House meeting this week.

While details of the final tax plan are still scarce, it would cut rates for individuals and corporations and simplify the tax code to one page for most filers.


This month, U.S. Reps. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Frank Lucas (R-OK) introduced H.R. 4007 that would allow the Export-Import Bank to function normally even if its board of directors lacks the necessary quorum, three of five board members.

In 2015, Congress reauthorized the agency through September 2019; however, the Bank is limited to approving deals of only up to $10 million because it currently has just two directors in place.

President Trump has submitted nominations for the open board seats, but the Senate has not acted on these.

The Ex-Im Bank export credit agency is an independent, self-sustaining executive branch agency with a mission of supporting American jobs by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services. When private-sector lenders are unable or unwilling to provide financing, the Ex-Im Bank fills in the gap for American businesses by equipping them with financing tools necessary to compete for global sales.

The Business Council of Alabama was part of a coalition that successfully urged congressional reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank’s charter in 2015. Between 2007 and 2015, the Bank backed $823 million in exports by 87 Alabama exporters, including 61 small businesses, supporting 5,000 jobs.


NAFTA Talks Hit Impasse as U.S. Slams Trading Partners
Politico (Cassella and Behsudi 10/17) “President Donald Trump’s promise to renegotiate NAFTA suffered a major setback Tuesday as Canada and Mexico aligned to block some of the most controversial U.S. proposals and the top U.S. trade negotiator accused its partner nations of being obstructionist and unwilling to negotiate.

“If all parties become entrenched in their positions, Trump has vowed to withdraw from the 23-year-old agreement altogether. That would usher in the new isolationist era that he has long threatened, potentially endangering tens of thousands of American jobs that depend on cross-border agreements for everything from manufacturing automobiles to the export of beef.

“The fourth round of negotiations wrapped up in the Washington area on Tuesday, and officials made clear they were at an impasse on a number of changes specifically sought by the Trump administration that dovetail with its ‘America First’ agenda.

“As a result, Canada, Mexico and the United States have agreed to delay their next round of talks by nearly a month, retreating to their respective capitals to work out ‘challenges’ and ‘significant conceptual gaps among the parties’ before meeting again on Nov. 17 in Mexico. Chief negotiators are then planning to meet in Washington in December, and additional rounds will be scheduled through the first quarter of 2018.”

Mo Brooks Named Founding Member of New House NASA Caucus
Yellowhammer (Bruce 10/18) “Twenty-eight Members of Congress have joined together to create a bipartisan congressional caucus to mark a new era in space exploration. Representative Mo Brooks (AL-5) is one of the founding members of the House National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) caucus. The caucus will be dedicated to advocating for the space agency’s economic and national security importance, as well as educating policy makers on current NASA initiatives.

“According to Alabama Today, Brooks currently serves as the vice-chair on the Space Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. ‘It is an honor to serve as the Congressman representing the Tennessee Valley, home to Alabama’s Marshall Space Flight Center – one of NASA’s largest field installations with nearly 6,000 civil service and contract employees,’ Brooks said. ‘Without the contributions of the dedicated engineers, scientists, and other talented professionals we would be unable to inspire the next generation with the dream of continued space exploration.'”