September 25, 2020
What to expect in Washington (September 25)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has asked committee chairmen to help assemble a $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief bill that will include elements of the $3 trillion-plus HEROES Act passed in May plus relief for airlines and restaurants. Speaker Pelosi has been facing pressure from moderate members to act on additional relief and a vote on the package next week is possible, but it isn't clear that a new a $2 trillion-plus package can produce a breakthrough in negotiations with the Administration that have been gridlocked for more than six weeks. "The package is expected to include stimulus checks, aid for airlines, small businesses, cities and states, as well as rental assistance, unemployment assistance and funds for election security and the U.S. Postal Service," the Washington Post reported.
The New York Times reported Speaker Pelosi as saying "We are still striving for an agreement," and "If necessary, we can formalize the request by voting on it on the House floor."
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) as saying Democrats were focused on working to find a deal that both chambers could accept and was noncommittal on whether the House would vote on the legislation without an agreement with the White House. The report said an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will be included in the House bill, and cited Republican senators as saying there is only a slim chance of a bipartisan deal before the election even with new movement in the House.
Politico reported that HEROES Act tax provisions that could be carried over to the new bill include expansions of the Employee Retention Tax Credit and the child tax credit.
At yesterday's Senate Banking hearing, "The Quarterly CARES Act Report to Congress," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, "I've probably spoken to Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days on the CR, and we've agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act." Asked by Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) why the Administration had been unable to muster GOP support for a larger package. Secretary Mnuchin said, "this requires 60 votes in the Senate, and I would encourage the Democrats in the Senate to work with us. I think there are areas of support. Let's pass things that we agree on quickly, then we can always come back and do more. So, it's less of the issue of what the absolute number is."
Today (September 25) is the House Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee will hold a hearing on "Restaurants in America During the COVID-19 Pandemic."
The Senate will vote next week, probably Tuesday, on the House-passed continuing resolution to: extend government funding through December 11, extend health extenders through that date, and extend both the surface transportation authorization and flood insurance through September 30, 2021; and provide money for the Highway Trust Fund and farm and nutrition aid.
Health care — An Executive Order signed by the President yesterday highlighted actions taken by the Administration and criticism of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and said in part, "It has been and will continue to be the policy of the United States to give Americans seeking healthcare more choice, lower costs, and better care and to ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions can obtain the insurance of their choice at affordable rates."
In remarks in Charlotte yesterday, President Trump said the ACA "is no longer Obamacare because we've gotten rid of the worst part of it — the individual mandate — and made it much less expensive" and "we are joining in a lawsuit to end this ill-conceived plan. I'm in court to terminate this really, really terrible situation. If we win, we will have a better and less expensive plan that will always protect individuals with preexisting conditions. If we lose, what we have now is better than the original." The President also mentioned sending prescription drug discount cards to seniors.
A WSJ story put the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the Court is set to consider an ACA case in political perspective. "The threat to the ACA is galvanizing both political parties, with some Republicans eager to see the law go even as they say they will uphold its coverage protections for people with pre-existing conditions. They see another possible conservative Supreme Court justice as improving their chances to free people from insurance mandates they say have driven up premiums and deprived consumers of choice. Democrats are trying to impress upon voters that health coverage under the ACA and Medicaid expansion, which has extended health insurance to about 20 million Americans, is on the line."
Today, President Trump participates in campaign events in Doral, FL, and Atlanta, GA.
New Fox News polls show Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leading President Trump among likely voters by: 52% to 41% in Nevada; 50% to 45% in Ohio; and 51% to 44% in Pennsylvania.
Quinnipiac University polls released September 24 showed, among likely voters: President Trump leading Biden 50% to 45% in Texas; and Biden leading 48% to 47% in Ohio.
The New York Times reported, on the mechanics of the election, "In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania … there are legal fights underway that could affect when voters have to mail in their ballots. In Pennsylvania and Ohio, there are lawsuits about where voters might be able to drop off their ballots."
At the September 23 House Ways & Means Social Security Subcommittee hearing, "Save Social Security Now," Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) warned of the effects of the President's payroll tax deferral on the program, saying President Trump "doesn't want to stop with a temporary deferral" and wants permanent cuts. "With a permanent payroll tax cut the president revealed that what he's after is a permanent cut in Social Security funding," Wyden said. Republicans cited Treasury assertions that the deferral will not imperil Social Security and accused Democrats of spreading falsehoods in asserting it will. "That is so grossly misleading that I cannot believe that in a time of crisis, when our seniors are already anxious … we're going to come here to make Social Security a political football," Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX) said.
Today, September 25, is the EY Webcast, "Tax in the time of COVID-19: Update on legislative, economic, regulatory and IRS developments," at 12:00 p.m. ET. The coronavirus (COVID-19) and the resulting economic crisis have made reacting to tax and trade developments more complicated and more difficult. Panelists will provide updates on: (i) the US legislative and economic landscape; (ii) breaking developments — federal and state; and (iii) what's happening at the IRS. Register.