Last week was a busy week on Capitol Hill as Congress gets ready to push towards the Thanksgiving Break.
Last week the House Ways & Means committee voted and moved to the full House their version of Tax Reform (H.R. 1 – Tax Cuts and Jobs Act). That bill was put to a full House vote yesterday and passed along party lines by a vote of 227-205. All 192 Democratic members voted no along with 13 Republican members. The bill calls for the repeal of WOTC effective 01/01/2018.
Also during last week, the Senate Finance committee began the markup of their Tax Reform bill. After holding their hearings all week, they too voted to move their bill out of committee and to the full Senate last night along party lines by a vote of 14-12. The Senate bill varies greatly from the House version in many areas including their treatment of State and Local Taxes and their inclusion of a repeal of the individual mandate for health insurance under the ACA. The bill is also silent on WOTC, therefore showing their intent to leave the program in its current state under the law which keeps it active through 12/31/2019. There were also two amendments submitted, one Republican and one Democratic, for the Senate bill that called for WOTC to be made permanent in the code. However, as with many of the over 200 amendments submitted, they were not put up for a vote during the markup of the Senate bill.
This now means that the full Senate plans to take up and debate their tax reform bill after the Thanksgiving break next week. Passage in the Senate will not be as easy as it was in the House as they do not enjoy as large of a majority as they do in the House. They can only really afford to lose two Republicans on the bill and already one Republican Senator has indicated that he cannot support the bill in its current state. There is sure to be additional amendments and modifications to the bill before any final vote is taken in the Senate. Should it pass the Senate, it would then have to go to conference where either the top committee members of Ways & Means and Finance will work to produce a compromised final bill or leadership may opt to take over the conference process. That is where the debate of either taking the House position or Senate position on WOTC will come to a head. We will be working closely with our Senate contacts over the next several weeks to make sure their position on WOTC survives the conference process.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
I hope you and your families have a very happy and relaxing Thanksgiving holiday.