Business

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

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski faces a conundrum with a clash between two of her key policy goals — drilling in ANWR and protecting access to health care back home. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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.’”

New $44 Billion Disaster Aid Request Paltry, Lawmakers Say
Extensive offsets could also prove controversial

Rep. John Culberson of Texas said the White House’s most recent aid request “would sabotage what has been an incredible response by President Trump to Hurricane Harvey up to this point.” (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In its third emergency aid request since August, the White House on Friday asked Congress to approve $44 billion for ongoing hurricane recovery efforts, a figure seen as insufficient on both sides of the aisle. 

At the same time, the White House asked lawmakers to consider a lengthy list of offsets, noting in a letter that the administration “believes it is prudent to offset new spending.”

10 Things to Watch as the Tax Bill Moves Forward
House passage just the first step

President Donald Trump arrives for a meeting with the House Republican Conference in the Capitol on Thursday to discuss the GOP’s tax bill. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, far left, and House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving, foreground, also appear. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House passage of a tax code rewrite Thursday was just the first in a multistep process. Many changes are expected before a bill reaches President Donald Trump’s desk.

First, the Senate has to prove it can pass a tax overhaul after failing to do so on health care.

GOP Leaders Predict More ‘Yes’ Votes on Final Tax Bill
‘As long as you cross the finish line’

From left, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., arrive to speak to reporters following the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republican leaders said they were not surprised by the comfortable nine-vote margin by which they passed their tax overhaul bill and predicted an even bigger spread on a final package reconciled with the Senate.

“I was not surprised by any of the ‘no’ votes or the ‘yes’ votes,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise told Roll Call. “So it was a lot of work over the last week, but I was really proud of the conference and what they did for the country.”

House Approves GOP Tax Overhaul
Thirteen Republicans votes against their leadership’s measure

New York GOP Reps. John J. Faso, Dan Donovan, Lee Zeldin and Peter T. King explain their opposition to the GOP tax overhaul bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Step one complete.

House Republicans on Thursday passed their tax overhaul bill, 227-205, which will now go to the Senate and be used as a vehicle to pass its own measure. Thirteen Republicans voted against the measure; no Democrats voted for the measure. 

The GOP’s ‘Vote and Hope’ Caucus
Several House Republicans to vote ‘yes’ in hope of later changes

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, holding up a theoretical postcard tax form, and his leadership team appear to have the votes to pass their tax legislation. But several members say they hope substantial changes to the bill come later. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Many House Republicans planning to vote “yes” on their tax bill Thursday are doing so with the understanding the measure is far from perfect and hoping their concerns will be addressed later during House and Senate conference negotiations.

Sound familiar? It was the same strategy several members employed in voting for a bill in May to partially repeal and replace the 2010 health care law.

‘Pass-Through’ Changes Dog Senate GOP Tax Overhaul
Republican Ron Johson says plan not generous enough to pass-throughs

From left, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Senate Finance ranking member Ron Wyden, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch and Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley participate in the committee markup of the Senate GOP’s tax bill Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Trouble signs emerged Wednesday for the Republican tax overhaul effort, even as the Senate Finance Committee crept closer — slowly, and sometimes painfully — toward approving its bill later this week.

The top tax writers on each side forecast long hours still ahead. “Tomorrow, we are going to be here a while,” Sen. Ron Wyden, the Finance panel’s ranking member, said Wednesday.

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

If there were any doubts that Republicans were bent on advancing the tax bill with only GOP support, those were squashed on Tuesday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, seen here with Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Cornyn. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch is presiding over a tension-filled committee markup of the GOP’s tax bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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

Plan to Boost Coal and Nuclear Could Cost Consumers
Should consumers pay more so coal and nuclear plants can survive?

Energy Secretary Rick Perry testifies during the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Oct. 12. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For years, federal regulation of the electric grid has focused on keeping prices low and competition stiff. But that could change with a recent proposal from the Trump administration to put more emphasis on what it calls resiliency.

According to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the electric grid is more resilient — able to bounce back from disasters of the natural and man-made variety — when it has plenty of so-called baseload power that can run 24/7, with or without sunshine or wind and regardless of supply snags.