August 5, 2019
What Remains for 2019?
Congress has left into recess for the summer and returning for summer district work, but they still face a substantial workload upon their return. Below is a list of some top-ticket items that must be completed before the year is out:
- National Flood Insurance Program – Bipartisan, bicameral legislation to reauthorize the program has been introduced that would cap premium increases and interest rate payments. The lead sponsors are Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in the Senate and Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Clay Higgins (R-LA) in the House. Section-by-section available here.
- Export-Import Bank – The initial legislation introduced in the House was withdrawn from consideration by Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters due to opposition from her own party. New legislation addressing the issue is yet to be seen. In the Senate, Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced bipartisan legislation (S.2293) late last week to extend the charter for ten years; the legislation currently has ten other cosponsors.
- Highway funding rescission – Section 1438 of the FAST Act (P.L. 114-94) rescinds $7.6 billion in Federal-aid highway program contract authority on July 1, 2020, unless repealed before this date. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a bill (S.1992) that would repeal this section July 30. The House bill (H.R.3612) awaits a vote in committee.
- Secure Rural Schools – Legislation (H.R.3048/S.430) has been introduced that would reauthorize the program for another year through FY2020. However, both bills are yet to see official action in committee.
- TANF funding – The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant (TANF) provides states funding to help families reduce welfare dependency. It has been reauthorized in short-term extensions since 2010. On July 5th, President Trump signed into law H.R.2940, a bipartisan bill from Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), which reauthorized TANF at the current funding level of $16.5 billion through September 30, 2019. No reauthorization bill to extend TANF beyond the September 30th deadline has yet been introduced.
- Medicaid DSH payment cut delay – Cuts to Medicaid payments for Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) are set to go into effect on October 1, barring congressional intervention. If Congress fails to delay the cuts, safety net hospitals will face a financial shortfall of $4 billion in FY 2020 and $8 billion in FY 2021. More than 300 members of the House of Representatives signed onto a letter led by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) to House leadership asking for a delay of Medicaid DSH cuts.
- Community health center funding, other public health programs – House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee advanced H.R.2328 for floor consideration that would fund a series of community health programs on a voice vote. The Senate companion bill is currently awaiting a vote in committee, and has 25 bipartisan cosponsors.
- Health Insurance Tax Credit – Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) has introduced a bill that would reauthorize the tax credit until December 31, 2025 (R.1939). It is currently awaiting official action in Ways and Means.
- Medical Device Tax – The tax was last delayed at the beginning of 2018 for two years. There appears to be wide support behind a permanent repeal of the tax, specifically behind the Protect Medical Innovation Act (H.R.2207/S.692).
- Alcohol Beverage Tax – Congress last passed the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act two years ago. Legislation was introduced at the beginning of the year to continue and update it, introduced by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in February this year. Both bills have wide bipartisan support.
- Paid Family and Medical Leave Tax Credit – This tax credit pilot program expires at the end of the year. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) has a bill (S.1628) that would extend the credit for 3 years, then require a GAO report on its effectiveness. That, however, has not received much attention since its introduction and only enjoys the cosponsorship of original cosponsors Sens. Angus King (I-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
- New Markets and Work Opportunity Tax Credits – Both taxes are set to expire, but there are items of legislation introduced to make them permanent. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) have identical bills to make the new markets tax credit permanent, while Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) have the same for the work opportunity tax credit.
The above items all have concrete deadlines this year. The following, however, are possible or likely to be on legislators’ checklists for 2019:
- Appropriations FY 2020: FY 2020 looks like it will begin with a continuing resolution.
- Trade: NAFTA 2.0 and USMCA implementation needs addressing but is not an immediate priority.
- Healthcare and drug prices package: It is unclear what exactly will be in the package, but the recent heated debate around the topic signals that this might be used on the campaign trail. Likely issues include Medicare drug pricing negotiation, surprise billing, and rebates, among many others.
- Tax extenders: Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has signaled a little optimism that a paradigm shift may be at hand for tax extenders owing to the House’s repeal of the “Cadillac tax” without abiding to the self-imposed pay-as-you-go rules. An extenders package has made its way out of committee, but still awaits action on the House floor.
- NDAA: Fall 2019.
- VAWA Reauthorization
- Higher Ed Reauthorization
- Technical correction to the 2017 tax overhaul law