Charles E Grassley

Finance drug price bill faces GOP resistance before markup
Proposals target Medicare drug prices

Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, on Tuesday offered a details on a drug price bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday outlined a long-anticipated drug price bill, but a planned Thursday markup may not go smoothly because of Republican discontent with the measure.

The bill is meant to slow the growth of Medicare’s prescription drug spending, limit cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries, and make it easier for state Medicaid programs to pay for expensive treatments, according to a summary.

House passes repeal of Obamacare tax on high-cost plans
‘Cadillac tax’ never took effect under intense lobbying against it by employers and unions

“If we fail to repeal the Cadillac tax, we will leave working families with less health care coverage, higher out-of-pocket health care costs and little to no wage increases,” says Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House passed, 419-6, legislation Wednesday to repeal the so-called Cadillac tax, pleasing health insurers, unions and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers who have long pushed to scrap the levy.

The measure would permanently repeal the 40 percent excise tax on high-cost employer-provided health insurance, which was envisioned as a key way to pay for the 2010 health care law. The tax, which Congress twice delayed from taking effect, is set to go into effect in 2022.

Grassley: ‘Cadillac’ tax repeal points way to extenders deal
PAYGO rules may no longer be a hindrance, Iowa Republican hints

Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley sees a way forward on a tax extenders deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley sees a “little bit of progress” on the tax extenders front in House Democrats’ decision to push repeal of the “Cadillac tax” on high-cost health insurance plans, without offsets for the lost revenue.

The House’s pay-as-you-go rules have been a hindrance for much of the year on moving legislation to extend tax breaks that expired at the end of 2017 and 2018. The most expensive of those is a provision originally authored by Grassley in 2004 to provide a $1 per gallon biodiesel blenders tax credit, which costs about $3 billion a year.

Congress is Trump’s best hope for drug pricing action
But divisions remain between Republicans and Democrats, House and Senate

The administration will need congressional help to take action this year on drug prices. (File photo)

An upcoming Senate bill is the Trump administration’s best hope for a significant achievement before next year’s election to lower prescription drug prices, but a lot still needs to go right for anything to become law.

Despite the overwhelming desire for action, there are still policy gulfs between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, and another gap between the Senate and the House. And the politics of the moment might derail potential policy agreements. Some Democrats might balk at settling for a drug pricing compromise that President Donald Trump endorsed.

Oil refiners racing Congress to protect butane loophole
Joint Committee on Taxation now estimates 1-year extension of the alternative fuel credits would cost $7.1 billion

House Ways and Means ranking member Kevin Brady, R-Texas, says Congress should leave it to the courts to decide whether refiners should get an alternative fuel tax credit for butane. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For more than a decade, oil refiners didn’t realize what a moneymaker they had in butane — at least for tax purposes.

They do now.

3 ways Trump’s Asia swing — including his North Korea visit — was peak Trump
President’s penchant for the dramatic was on full display

South Koreans at the Seoul railway station on June 30 watch a TV screen depicting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meeting with President Donald Trump at the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump strode side by side onto North Korean soil Sunday with its hard-line leader, Kim Jong Un, in a moment that was vintage Trump.

From regional airport hangar rallies that start with Air Force One rolling up to classic rock tunes to setting up dramatic Washington cliffhangers, to Trump’s ability to drive — and dominate — news cycles to becoming the first sitting American president to enter North Korea, stagecraft is paramount.

Democrats want to eliminate corporate tax cut but their tax measure avoids it
Democrats have plans for spending money raising corporate rate would bring in, but they’ll go nowhere as long as Trump is in the Oval Office

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., has not included eliminating the corporate tax cut in current moving legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There’s no lack of plans from Democrats paid for by undoing at least part of the huge 2017 corporate tax rate cut. But the only Democrat with a tax bill currently moving through Congress is pointedly not talking about revisiting the lower 21 percent rate.

The 14 percentage point rate cut in the 2017 law, which is permanent, was projected to save corporations $1.35 trillion over its first 10 years. 

Trump jets to Japan to wing it at G-20 summit as Iran tensions build
Official unable to lay out agenda for high-stakes meetings with Xi, Putin and MBS

Air Force One arrives with President Donald Trump for a rally in Montoursville, Pa., on May 20. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After a week of brinksmanship and backing down, President Donald Trump  heads to a G-20 summit in Japan on Wednesday for talks with other world leaders amid a volatile confrontation with Iran and stalled trade talks with China.

Senior administration officials made clear this week that Trump, who admits his negotiating style is based on gut feelings and big bets, will largely wing it at the meeting. Officials declined to describe any set agenda for the president’s talks with world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Odd bedfellows share concerns over Pelosi drug plan
Conservatives and progressives wary of drug price arbitration, but for different reasons

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is developing a drug price plan that focuses on drug price arbitration. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Dems push craft beer tax break renewal, and more in bill headed for markup
House Ways and Means announced its markup of tax legislation, which includes credit expansions for lower-income workers and families with kids

Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., talks with reporters as he walks down the stairs after the last vote before the Memorial Day recess at the Capitol in Washington on May 23, 2019. Neal has long complained about the quick passage of the 2017 tax overhaul, which led to “technical” errors in the bill. He has proposed new fixes along with tax credits and renewals in new tax legislation. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Legislation that would beef up the refundable portions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit for 2018 and 2019 also includes a repeal of the so-called ″church parking tax,″ that left some nonprofits paying taxes on transportation-related fringe benefits for their employees as part of a change made by the 2017 tax overhaul. Those and other changes in the bill would cost a total of $102.5 billion over a decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, with no offsetting revenue increases or spending cuts.

The panel will take up four separate pieces of legislation Thursday, including the tax extenders measure, which also would provide tax benefits for victims of natural disasters that occurred in 2018 and this year. Two other bills on tap would extend some retroactive tax benefits to same-sex married couples and add $1 billion in each of the next two fiscal years for child care funding under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.