Joe Williams

For Murkowski, Tax Overhaul Isn’t Just Business. It’s Personal
Inclusion of ANWR drilling could put her in new Alaska league

Twelve years ago, Sen. Lisa Murkowski sat at the breakfast table with her youngest son, who was in junior high school at the time. It was a big day. The chamber was set to vote on opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, a priority of Alaska lawmakers for the previous three decades.

“My son looks up at me and he says, ‘Mom, I thought grandpa passed ANWR years ago,”’ the Republican senator recalled recently in her Hart Building office, referencing her father, former Sen. Frank H. Murkowski. “You have to kind of say, ‘Well, yeah, they kinda passed it, but it didn’t really pass. And so it’s back before us again and we’re going at it.’”

Murkowski Suggests Tax Vote Depends on Stabilizing Individual Health Insurance Market
Alaska Republican says Alexander-Murray bill is needed before mandate repeal

Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski suggested Thursday that her vote on the current version of the Senate GOP tax overhaul is contingent on the passing of a separate bill to stabilize the individual health insurance market.

The tax legislation now includes a section to repeal the individual mandate in the 2010 health care law — a provision that opens up more than $300 billion in revenue — but could also threaten the viability of the overall law.

Senate Ethics Committee Could Get Real Busy, Real Soon
Inquiries of Franken, Menendez and maybe Roy Moore loom

The Senate Ethics Committee may soon become one of the most active panels in the chamber.

It is all but assured the committee will investigate allegations that Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken groped and kissed a Los Angeles news anchor during a 2006 USO tour. (Franken was not a U.S. senator at the time.) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Franken himself have all called for the panel to take up the case.

JCT: Low-Income Households Worse Off Under New Senate Tax Plan
Families will be “clobbered,” Wyden says

An updated Senate plan to overhaul the U.S. tax code could dramatically raise taxes on households earning between $10,000 to $30,000 starting in 2021, according to new findings released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Taxation.

The analysis incorporates the effect of changes released by Senate Republicans late Tuesday in a chairman’s mark, including repeal of the individual mandate penalty for failure to purchase health insurance coverage, bigger tax rate cuts and child tax credits, and sunsetting provisions affecting individuals and families after 2025.

Van Hollen Urges Freedom Caucus to Protect Medicare
‘Sequestration would harm Americans across the country’

The House Freedom Caucus should raise the issue of automatic spending cuts that would occur to the Medicare program should Congress pass a sweeping tax overhaul, Sen. Chris Van Hollen wrote in a Wednesday letter to the group.

“While I did not always agree with Freedom Caucus positions when I served in the House of Representatives, the Freedom Caucus has been a strong supporter of debt reduction,” the Maryland Democrat wrote.

Senate Considers Staying in Session After Dec. 18
Discussions ongoing as chamber plate remains full

The Senate is making preliminary plans to cancel a scheduled state work period the week of Dec. 18 in order to remain in session and wrap up a litany of outstanding items, according to three GOP senators.

The discussions on the schedule, which the lawmakers say are not yet final, is a testament to how much the chamber still has to accomplish before the year’s end and the looming political battle over several of the items.

Another GOP Senator Unhappy With Tax Bill Individual Mandate Repeal
‘It’s just one more dimension,’ Kansas’ Jerry Moran says

Updated 11/15/17 3:24 p.m. | Sen. Jerry Moran said Wednesday he was disappointed the Senate Finance Committee chose to try to repeal the individual mandate in the pending tax overhaul but said he would analyze it in the broader context of the bill.

“Because of the desire for a bipartisan tax bill, I wish we weren’t doing the individual mandate. But we’ll analyze it in a health care perspective as well,” the Kansas Republican said. “It’s just one more dimension.”

Analysis: New Senate Tax Bill Solves Some Issues, Raises Others
‘This is largely a partisan exercise,’ McConnell tells CEOs

The latest version of the Senate bill to overhaul the U.S. tax code solves some problems for Republican leadership, but potentially creates a host of others.

The updated chairman’s mark would direct more tax relief to lower- and middle-class Americans through several new provisions, including a proposed reduction in the tax rates for the current seven income brackets. But those cuts would now be temporary and expire in 2026. At the same time, the proposal would make the reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent permanent.

Senate GOP Throws Health Care Curveball Into Tax Debate
Bid to repeal individual mandate to pay for tax cuts roils Capitol

A complicated tax overhaul debate got more complicated Tuesday when Senate Republicans injected health care politics into the equation. 

With a growing number of Senate Republicans seeking bigger tax cuts for individuals and families, but short of ways to finance it, GOP leaders gave the go-ahead to repeal the 2010 health care law’s mandate to purchase insurance to pay for their wish list

Sessions Fits Alabama Senate Write-In Mold, McConnell Says
More GOP leaders calling for Moore to stand down amid allegations

Attorney General Jeff Sessions “fits the mold” of someone who could win a write-in campaign, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday as more congressional Republicans call for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to step aside.

The Kentucky Republican said he has spoken to the White House about the race, but was skeptical a GOP candidate could win without being on the ballot.

Senate GOP Looks to Kill Individual Mandate to Pay for More Tax Cuts

A growing chorus of Senate Republicans wants the bigger tax cuts for individuals and families in their tax overhaul, but the problem remains how to pay for it. And their leader says the biggest pot of money is in repealing the individual mandate to purchase health insurance. 

“We’re optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful and that’s obviously the view of the Senate Finance Committee Republicans as well,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday. 

Scheduling Note for Senate Finance Panel's Tax Markup

The Senate Finance Committee is planning on releasing an updated version of its tax plan on Tuesday, according to the panel chairman, Orrin G. Hatch, apparently a little behind schedule from when panel members were expecting to see the proposal. 

“A modified mark will be provided to members later today which reflects input received from the amendments that have been filed,” the Utah Republican said. “Because of a large number of amendments that we have processed, the modified mark will be given to members later today ... and everyone can then have time to read over the modifications.”

Senate Tax Markup Will Be Spirited, but Don’t Expect Fireworks
Finance panel has more than 350 amendments to weigh over the next several days

The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday begins in earnest its markup of the Republican bill to overhaul the U.S. tax code.

Following opening statements Monday, the panel has more than 350 amendments to consider over the course of the next several days.

Judge’s White House Connection Should’ve Come Up in Committee, Grassley Says
Federal nominee Brett Talley is married to White House counsel chief of staff

Any concerns over Alabama federal district judge nominee Brett Talley’s marriage to a top-ranking White House employee should have been addressed during the confirmation hearing, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley said Monday.

Talley did not list his marriage to Ann Donaldson, who serves as chief of staff to White House counsel David McGhan II, on his public disclosure forms, according to a New York Times report.

Rand Paul to Return to Senate Monday Evening
Kentucky senator suffered broken ribs in alleged attack by his neighbor

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will return to Washington, D.C., on Monday evening after sustaining several major injuries earlier this month from a brawl with a neighbor in Kentucky, an incident his office has described as a blindsided attack. 

“While I’m still in a good deal of pain, I will be returning to work in the Senate today, ready to fight for liberty and help move forward with tax cuts in the coming days and weeks,” he wrote in a Twitter post Monday morning. 

Five Wacky and Wonky Provisions in the Senate Tax Bill
Proposals would help pay for major changes to individual and corporate tax code

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch released Thursday a summary of the panel’s legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax code that would dramatically lower the corporate tax rate, increase the child tax credit, remove popular tax exemptions many Americans take and nearly double the standard deduction for individuals and families.

Apart from the headline-grabbing provisions, tucked away in the 253-page chairman’s mark are several other notable changes to the current tax code. Many of the proposals are intended to pay for the hallmark provisions, like the corporate tax rate cut.

Perdue Fires Warning Shot, Blasts GOP Colleagues
Georgia Republican says leadership should change ‘if you continue to not get results’

The pending tax overhaul may be the ultimate test of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s future as the Republican leader in the chamber. And one person who will be watching closely is Sen. Read more...
Senate GOP to Delay Corporate Tax Cut, Repeal ‘SALT’ Deduction
Finance Committee releases plan highlights

Updated 5:25 p.m. | Senate Republicans proposed Thursday to delay a corporate tax cut for one year and fully repeal the deduction for state and local taxes, taking a different approach than the House on overhauling the tax code.

The plan highlights released by the Senate Finance Committee show shared goals with the House bill advanced by the Ways and Committee on Thursday. Both would provide tax cuts at all income levels, slash the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, and expand benefits for families with children. For multinational companies, the proposals would shift to a new territorial tax regime.

Cornyn: Senate Vote On Tax Bill Likely After Thanksgiving

The Senate is planning on bringing legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax code to the chamber floor the week after the Thanksgiving break, according to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn.

“Probably we’ll do [the tax bill] the week after,” the Texas Republican said when asked about whether the Senate will remain in the week of Thanksgiving.

Questions Linger in Senate Tax Bill
Hatch: ‘We still have a lot more to do‘

Several areas of the Senate tax legislation remain unresolved the night before Republicans plan to release broader details of their plan, according to Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch.

The GOP is still weighing whether to collapse any of the current seven tax brackets, when a cut to the corporate tax rate should take effect and whether the reduction should phase-out before the end of the ten-year budget window, according to the Utah Republican.