Charles E Grassley

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.

Susan Collins casts her 7,000th consecutive Senate vote
Republican senator from Maine hit another milestone with the first floor vote Tuesday

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, arrives for a committee hearing on Tuesday. She has never missed a vote — even after breaking her ankle over Christmas in 2016.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:39 p.m. | Neither snow nor rain nor broken ankles can stop Susan Collins from making it to work.

Tuesday brings a new milestone: The first roll call vote of the day was the 7,000th in a row for the Republican from Maine, who takes pride in having never missed a vote since arriving in the Senate back in 1997.

‘My way or the highway’: An approach to the NDAA debate
There are nearly 400 amendments filed to the bill, which has become law the past 58 years

Chairman James Inhofe, left, and ranking member Sen. Jack Reed are seen during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Inhofe will manage the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill starting as soon as Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is expected to debate the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill this week, but it may be a debate in name only.

In the past six years, the Senate has approved scores of amendments to the mammoth Pentagon policy bill, known as the NDAA — short for National Defense Authorization Act. But almost all of them have been of the unobjectionable variety, approved by unanimous consent as part of huge packages of similarly uncontroversial proposals.

Buffeted by trade winds, soybean farmers seek tax credit renewal
Industry ‘would be wiped out‘ if tariffs on Argentine competitors were lifted, Rep. Kind says

Freshman Iowa Rep. Abby Finkenauer, center, is seeking to restore the biodiesel credit (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One bright spot in an otherwise dreary outlook for U.S. soybean farmers, caught in the ongoing China trade war crossfire, has been the 1.5 gallons of biodiesel — a cleaner-burning alternative to traditional diesel motor fuel — that each bushel of soybeans yields.

Protected on one side by the EPA’s renewable fuels mandate and by steep import tariffs on the other, some biodiesel producers were able to post profits last year despite the lapse of the industry’s coveted $1 per gallon tax credit for the sale or use of the fuel.

Senate honors late chaplain Lloyd Ogilvie

Lloyd Ogilvie, right, served for eight years as Senate chaplain. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate on Monday memorialized former Senate Chaplain Lloyd John Ogilvie, who died on June 5 at age 88.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke fondly of the way Ogilvie provided spiritual guidance to senators during the chaplain’s tenure from 1995 through 2003. McConnell noted those times featured the challenges of lawmakers dealing with 9/11, the anthrax scare and a host of their own personal challenges.

Republican rebellion over Mexico tariffs overshadows Trump’s European visit
As D-Day ceremonies begin, GOP members send a rare warning to the president

House Ways and Means ranking member Kevin Brady and other Republicans broke Tuesday with President Donald Trump on his planned tariffs on goods entering the country from Mexico. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s latest tariff war sparked a rare rebellion by Republican lawmakers on Tuesday, stealing the spotlight from his state visit to the United Kingdom and threatening to intrude on the ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France.

“On the proposed Mexico tariffs, look, there is a window here,” House Ways and Means ranking member Kevin Brady said Tuesday of escalating tensions over the tariff threat. “Negotiations, and what I’ve heard constructive negotiations, are occurring as we speak with Mexico representatives in Washington right now.”

Retirement bill remains stalled amid Republican holds in Senate
Finance Committee chairman says as many as six GOP senators have issues with the bill ‘for different reasons’

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said the retirement savings bill, which has been worked on over the past three Congresses, “should have passed eons ago. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A handful of Republican senators are holding up what could be the biggest retirement savings bill in more than a decade.

After sailing through the House on a 417-3 vote May 23 before the weeklong Memorial Day recess, supporters hoped the legislation would garner unanimous consent for quick passage in the Senate the following day. But senatorial holds accumulated and continue to stall the measure.

Road ahead: Plenty of legislating to be done around Trump impeachment chatter
Disaster relief bill and defense authorization among upcoming priorities

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., left, blasted House Republicans who objected to the disaster supplemental during the break. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The increasing talk of the House launching impeachment proceedings is not yet crippling the legislative agenda that does exist, but that could change if President Donald Trump refuses to negotiate.

As lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week, the first order of business will be for the House to finish the long-stalled emergency spending package for disaster relief. The Senate passed the compromise bill May 16, but the floor votes came after House members had already left town for the Memorial Day break.

Trump administration lifts summer restrictions on higher-ethanol gasoline
Lifting the rule delivers a lifeline to soybean farmers hit hard by the president’s tariff war with China and by recent flooding in the Midwest

The EPA on Friday announced a proposal to ease an annual requirement for ethanol in gasoline. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

The Trump administration on Friday finalized at the 11th hour a rule that would allow expanded sales of higher ethanol gasoline, even as the oil industry prepares to challenge the change in court.

The rule opening up year-round sales of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, or E15, would deliver a lifeline to soybean farmers hit hard by the president’s tariff war with China and by recent flooding in the Midwest that deluged farms.

White House brushes off Grassley, GOP concern over Mexico tariffs
'Trade policy and border security are separate issues,' Senate Finance chair warns

Then-Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., second from right, before his Senate Budget Committee confirmation hearing in  January 2017. He's now acting White House chief of staff and leading a new tariff spat with Mexico. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After abruptly announcing tariffs on imports coming from Mexico over a migrant dispute, the White House is brushing aside the concerns of powerful Republican lawmakers - including Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley.

President Donald Trump green-lighted the import fees in an attempt to push the Mexican government to clamp down on the flow of Central and South American migrants moving through its territory toward the U.S.-Mexico border.