Majority Leader Eric Cantor laid out a busy legislative agenda for the remainder of June in a memo to House Republicans sent Friday, scheduling floor time to address issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs, three appropriations bills, three tax extender bills, and legislation to make gas and other energy prices cheaper. Notably absent from the agenda: any mention of immigration, an unemployment extension or the expiring Export-Import Bank.
First up as the House returns for its "summer stretch into the swampy heat of Washington, D.C.," the Virginia Republican said the House will consider three tax extender bills next week. One bill (HR 4457) would make the 2013 small-business expensing levels permanent. Another (HR 4453) would reduce the built-in gains tax holding period to five years from its current 10. The third bill (HR 4454) would make certain charitable giving rules permanent.
Cantor also said the next three appropriations bills the House will consider are for funding Transportation-HUD, Agriculture and Defense appropriations.
Cantor also reaffirmed House GOP's commitment to the Highway Trust Fund and a plan put forward last week to pay for the account by slashing Saturday postal service delivery.
While the Highway Trust Fund is due to run out of money this summer, another fund that expires shortly after, in September, did not get a mention: The Export-Import Bank. The Ex-Im Bank has become a contentious issue among many conservatives, who say it promotes "crony capitalism" and is not a significant source for job creation. Many Democrats — and even some establishment Republicans — dispute that notion and note that the credit agency helps U.S. companies export goods.
Also absent was any mention of immigration, which continues to be the central hot-button issue for conservatives, even though lawmakers cheerleading for an overhaul bill say it could still be on track for this summer .
Senate Democrats recommitted this week to trying to pass another unemployment benefits extension if they can reach a new deal with Republicans.
Read the full memo below.
TO: House Republicans
FR: Eric Cantor
DT: Friday, June 6, 2014
RE: June Legislative Agenda
As we return for our summer stretch into the swampy heat of Washington, D.C., we will continue to work on our agenda to ensure that every American has the opportunity to pursue happiness by building an America that Works.
Building an America that Works requires that we:
(1) Provide an environment for economic growth and job creation;
(2) Act to remedy government policies that are squeezing the middle class by reducing their take home pay and increasing their cost of living;
(3) Reform our healthcare system by replacing Obamacare with policies that improve patient choice, access to doctors and hospitals, and lower costs; and
(4) Ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed by accessing a quality education.
As we look forward to a busy June, we must continue to build upon our work since the beginning of the year, including everything we accomplished in May - which is outlined below.
Our goal is to build an America that Works.
Every parent knows that America doesn’t work if our children are trapped in failing schools. Every child, regardless of what zip code they were born into, deserves the opportunity to advance in a school that works. Which is why the House, in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion, passed H.R. 10, the Success and Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Act, authored by Chairman John Kline. This bill takes common-sense conservative reforms to expand high-performing charter schools at the state and local level and provide states with the flexibility to allocate federal funds to start charter schools. We have seen the positive growth of charter schools throughout the nation and as a result, nearly two million students attend a public charter school. Yet, nearly a million kids remain on a wait-list to access the preferred school of their choice. I call on Senator Reid to take up H.R. 10 in the Senate as soon as possible so that we can provide the opportunity for those children, or any child, seeking a better education to fulfill their dreams.
Job Creation and Economic Growth
House Republicans began the first steps of reworking our tax code to create good paying middle class jobs, encourage businesses investments, and develop the technologies of the future with the passage of American Research and Competitiveness Act. This bipartisan bill, sponsored by Representative Kevin Brady, creates the certainty that American businesses need to invest in jobs and grow our economy. By permanently extending the R&D tax credit, we put American companies, especially American manufacturers, on par with their international competitors whom already have permanent R&D incentives. I expect to consider similar tax bills this month and those are outlined below.
An America that Leads
An America that leads is an America with military power that cannot be matched because we must be prepared to meet and confront challenges so that our homeland is protected, our allies are defended, and our enemies are defeated. Knowing that, our men and women in uniform deserve all the tools and resources necessary to accomplish their mission and protect our freedoms. The House fulfilled the commitment to those who fight by passing the National Defense Authorization Act and the Intelligence Authorization Act last month. Combined, these bills will enable America to lead globally and project the strength that has protected America’s interests for over half a century.
Honoring and Protecting Our Veterans
Part of an America that Leads is ensuring that our government keeps its commitments to our veterans. The unfolding scandal regarding the access to care within the VA and the cover-up of the fact that veterans were being denied care is offensive and unacceptable to all of us. It is critical that we hold those responsible - from the President to the senior management at the VA to the regional managers to facility employees - fully accountable. There should be zero tolerance for those who allow these kinds of activities to occur and that is why we passed on a bipartisan basis a bill to authorize the termination of those senior officials who are failing to live up to their duty to serve our veterans. In the coming weeks, Chairman Jeff Miller and his committee will proceed with a thorough investigation into these issues. While that is occurring, however, no veteran should be waiting to receive timely care. I expect the House will consider legislation in the very near future to permit veterans who cannot currently access care through the VA to access care in the private sector.
Human trafficking is modern day slavery and it is happening all too frequently across this country. The federal government has an important role to play in putting an end to this practice which is why the House passed five bipartisan bills in May to combat this horrific crime. But our work is not yet done. We will continue to address the horrific threat of human trafficking. In July, the House will consider another round of legislation aimed at stopping trafficking.
Last month, the House considered the first three FY2015 appropriations bills: Military Construction/Veterans Affairs, Legislative Branch, and Commerce/Justice/Science. In fact, this was the earliest start to the appropriations process since 1974. I want to thank Chairman Hal Rogers and the members of the Appropriations Committee for their dedicated work as responsible stewards of taxpayer money. Our conservative reforms and priorities can be put into effect as long as we continue to pass appropriations bills through the House. As of today, the Senate has yet to being the appropriations process.
We will continue our fight for An America That Works during the month of June with the following areas of emphasis:
Jobs and Economic Growth
With 20 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, House Republicans have prioritized legislation to help Americans get back to work and close the skills gap that has prevented too many Americans from getting a good paying job. In March of last year, the House passed Representative Virginia Foxx’s SKILLS Act (H.R. 803) to streamline existing federal programs, eliminate government hurdles for job training, and strengthen the relationship between community colleges and job training programs. Not only must we ensure that government is not standing in the way of businesses creating jobs, but we must also ensure that government is not impeding the ability of people seeking employment to gain the skills for the jobs available.
In May, a bicameral, bipartisan agreement was reached to move this legislation through Congress and to the president for his signature. This agreement eliminates 15 existing federal programs, applies uniform outcome metrics for our workforce programs, and provides greater input from state and local workforce development boards. This agreement moves us one step closer to empowering our workforce and creating an America that works for everyone. I anticipate prompt consideration of the SKILLS Act in the House as soon as the Senate approves the measure.
Targeted Tax Extenders
During the first part of this year, Chairman Dave Camp put forth a bold tax reform proposal, the Tax Reform Act of 2014, which aimed to address a broken tax code that penalizes hard work and innovation, stifles American competitiveness, and economic growth. As the Committee continues to gather feedback on the draft, we have an opportunity to address some of the currently lapsed tax extenders consistent with our overall direction on tax reform. Building upon the success of the American Research and Competitiveness Act last month, the House will consider the following targeted tax extender bills next week to create jobs and grow the economy:
• America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014 (H.R. 4457): Authored by Representative Pat Tiberi, this bill would make permanent Small Business Expensing (section 179) at the 2013 levels. Small businesses would be able to expense up to $500,000 of investment in new equipment and property per year, with the deduction phased out for investments exceeding $2 million, both of which are indexed for inflation. This bill will make it easier for small businesses to make the investments necessary to grow their businesses and create more jobs.
• Permanent S Corporation Built-in Gains Recognition Period Act of 2014 (H.R. 4453): This proposal authored by Representative Dave Reichert, would make permanent a currently expired provisions that reduces for businesses who are organized as S-Corps the built-in gains tax holding period from 10 to 5-years. This change would give these businesses easier access to their capital to grow and create new jobs.
• Permanent S Corporation Charitable Contributions Act of 2014 (H.R. 4454): A second S-Corp bill also authored by Representative Dave Reichert would make permanent temporary tax provisions regarding the basis adjustment rules for charitable giving by S-Corps. In 2010 over 4 million S-Corps associated with over 7 million shareholders filed a federal tax return. These businesses are in virtually every community in America. Making it easier for these businesses and their owners to make charitable gifts is good for both our communities and the economy.
Lessen the Middle Class Squeeze
Lowering Gas and Energy Prices
Three out of four Americans say they are living paycheck to paycheck. Increased energy and gas costs are squeezing more out of an already smaller paycheck for middle class Americans. According to AAA, the average price for a gallon at the pump today is $3.66, or a dollar more per gallon than in June of 2009 (the first year of President Obama’s initial term). When middle class Americans are struggling just to put gas in the tank to get to work, we know America isn’t working.
Yet this administration and Congressional Democrats are doing nothing to help ease the pain of increased energy costs on Americans. In fact, they seem to be doing the opposite. Earlier this week, we saw Democrats champion the President’s new EPA rule to destroy thousands of middle class jobs, including in the coal industry, and increase energy costs. They just don’t get it. In February, House Republicans acted to prevent the President from increasing utility costs. We passed Representative Ed Whitfield’s legislation (H.R.3826) to protect electric utility plants from excessive EPA regulation as well as Representatives Bill Johnson and Doug Lamborn’s bill (H.R.2824) to protect coal mining from excessive and unnecessary federal regulation.
House Republicans will act this month to lessen the cost of gasoline and energy and put more money back into the pockets of everyday Americans. The Energy and Commerce Committee and the Natural Resources Committee are working to put together a package of bills for the week of June 23rd aimed at easing the middle class squeeze brought on by higher energy prices. Among these bills will be Chairman Fred Upton’s bill, H.R. 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act which will remove government imposed red tape that is making difficult to build the infrastructure necessary to move new supplies of North American energy to where they are needed most. Building this infrastructure is not only good for jobs, but also will help lower energy costs. We will also consider H.R. 6, Representative Cory Gardner’s Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, which will allow the U.S. to take advantage of the growth in domestic natural gas production by making it easier to export LNG. I expect the committees to work this month to produce a number of other bills for consideration.
Our committees continue to work to expose the harmful effects of Obamacare and refine different policies that reduce costs, expand access and provide patients with greater control over their healthcare. We will be discussing these policy options with you in the weeks ahead in anticipation of additional floor action.
As I mentioned earlier, the House has completed its first three appropriations bills while the Senate has yet to bring one bill to the floor for consideration. Chairman Hal Rogers and the committee members continue to examine federal spending as they work towards reporting out all 12 appropriation bills from the Committee. As guardians of finite taxpayer dollars, nothing is more important than allocating these funds towards programs that are effective, efficient, and necessary. Our conservative principles are reflected in the priorities funded by Chairman Rogers and the subcommittee chairmen in their bills.
I expect the House to continue its responsibility to judiciously allocate taxpayer money in June with three more appropriation bills:
• Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (Subcommittee Chair Tom Latham)
• Agriculture (Subcommittee Chair Robert Aderholt)
• Defense (Subcommittee Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen)
As previously announced, the House will likely hold recorded votes past 7:00 p.m. during consideration of appropriation bills.
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
The last reauthorization of the CFTC occurred in 2008, before the height of the financial crisis and prior to the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act. Since then, the CFTC has been granted broad new authorities to supervise the futures and swaps markets. Many of the CFTC’s new rules have negatively impacted end-users, such as our farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, small businesses, and utilities, by making it more difficult and costly to manage risks associated with their businesses. As a result, millions of working middle class Americans will be negatively impacted by a law that was enacted to reform our financial system.
Americans will pay higher electric and natural gas utility rates and higher prices at the grocery store due to new CFTC regulations. In response, the House will consider H.R. 4413, the Customer Protection and End User Relief Act, authored by Chairman Frank Lucas. This bipartisan legislation that would provide meaningful relief from overly-burdensome requirements from the CFTC at a time when we need less government involvement in our businesses. In addition, the bill would improve the operations of the CFTC and would provide important safeguards in our futures markets to better protect market participants and preserve their ability to effectively manage risk.
As you may be aware, as a result of lower than anticipated revenues into the Highway Trust Fund, the Trust Fund will require an additional transfer of funds prior to the August District Work Period. Failing to provide additional funds would mean a disruption of ongoing construction projects - right in the midst of the construction season.
Under current House Rules and under recent practice, a transfer of general funds into the Highway Trust Fund must be offset. Given the limited window for action, we believe it is important that an offset be simple and have the support of the Administration and Congressional Republicans. As a memo released last week stated, we are preparing a proposal that would combine a move to modified six day postal delivery along with a short-term extension of the highway bill that places the necessary resources into the Trust Fund to prevent a disruption of highway projects. The move to eliminate the mandate for full six day postal delivery has been requested by the Obama Administration, the Postal Service, and has been included in the postal reform bill reported by Chairman Issa and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
We firmly believe that this is the best way to ensure continued funding of highway projects in a fiscally responsible manner that implements a needed structural reform to a growing federal liability. Unfortunately, there has been a great deal of misinformation circulated about this proposal. I look forward to discussing this with you and clarifying any outstanding questions you may have.
Thank you for your continued hard work to build an American that works. I look forward to a productive June.