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September 30, 2020

What to expect in Washington (September 30)

Negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin regarding additional coronavirus relief legislation are back on, and the Administration is expected to provide today (September 30) a more detailed response regarding a possible $1.5 trillion package, which was previously suggested as the upper limit of what they could support. "I say we're going to give it one more serious try to get this done and I think we're hopeful that we can get something done," Secretary Mnuchin said on CNBC this morning. With House Democrats having released September 28 an updated version of the HEROES Act at a net cost $2.2 trillion, the target cost parameters of the talks haven't changed in nearly two months. The House bill includes $436 billion for state and local governments.

"Our conversation was a positive one. We will get back together tomorrow to see how we can find common ground and how we, again, help state and local government play the role that it does." Speaker Pelosi said on MSNBC September 29, "We're in a negotiation, and, hopefully, we will come to a bipartisan agreement that will remove all doubt that the legislation will pass and be signed by the president."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said in a scheduling announcement this morning that "Members are advised that the House is expected to consider the updated Heroes Act today." Republican leaders told members to oppose the measure, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, suggesting that there are still strong feelings against provisions Democrats view as necessary. "This bill is yet another unserious, partisan messaging bill from Speaker Pelosi," a spokeswoman for House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said Tuesday. "It has zero chance of becoming law, and Republicans won't support it."

Health care

In an unusual move, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) September 29 filed cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 4653, "legislation to protect the healthcare of millions of people in the US and prevent efforts of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to advocate courts to strike down the ACA." Senator Schumer made the motion to proceed, which is generally viewed as a Majority Leader's prerogative, and filed cloture on his own motion, and it will be the pending business following expected Senate passage today of the continuing resolution to extend government funding through December 11, and for other purposes. Under the rules, a cloture vote on the ACA measure would occur on Thursday. The procedural motion is expected to fail but is an effort to force Republicans to vote before the election on the issue of health care, which has become an even greater focus in light of plans by the President and Senate majority to fill the Supreme Court vacancy as the Court is set to consider an ACA case November 10.

Vice President Pence said on Fox September 29: "We're going to stay committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare and giving the American people great healthcare that respects the doctor-patient relationship, that's built on free market principles and doesn't put us on an inexorable pathway to socialized medicine, which ultimately is where the Democrats want to take us."

Supreme Court

Judge Amy Coney Barrett began making the rounds in the Senate regarding her nomination to serve as a Supreme Court Justice, meeting with senators including Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and John Thune (R-SD). CBS News reported White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as saying Judge Barrett wouldn't be escorted to meetings by a former senator, a sometimes-customary part of the process: "I don't think we'll be using a Sherpa as much." Sherpas for President Trump's previous nominees were former Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ).


Asked during the first presidential debate in Cleveland September 29 about the lack of a GOP alternative to the ACA, President Trump said nullifying the ACA individual mandate was a major step on health care, and he touted his efforts to cut drug prices. "The individual mandate was the most unpopular aspect of Obamacare. I got rid of it. And we will protect people with preexisting conditions," he said.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden said of filling the Supreme Court vacancy, "What's at stake here is the President has made it clear he wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. He's been running on that, he ran on that, and he's been governing on that. He's in the Supreme Court right now trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, which will strip 20 million people from having insurance." Biden said a public option wouldn't eliminate private insurance: "It's only for those people who are so poor they qualify for Medicaid, they can get that free in most states except governors who want to deny people who are poor Medicaid. Anyone who qualifies for … Medicaid would automatically be enrolled in the public option. The vast majority of the American people would still not be in that option."

Biden also promised to eliminate the "Trump tax cuts," or at least a significant number of them, and to make the corporate tax 28%. "It shouldn't be 21%," he said. Biden said "manufacturing went in the hole" under President Trump, even before the pandemic, while the President countered that it was Democrats who gave up on manufacturing.

President Trump said, "When the stock market goes up, that means jobs. It also means 401(k)s." he told Biden, "If you got in, if you ever became president with your ideas, you want to terminate my taxes, I'll tell you what, you'll lose — half of the companies that are poured in here will leave, and plenty of the companies that are already here, they'll leave for other places."

On climate change, Biden said his plan for energy efficiency would create jobs: "We're going to build an economy that, in fact, is going to provide for the ability … to take 4 million buildings and make sure that they, in fact, are weatherized. … We can get to net zero in terms of energy production by 2035. Not only not costing people jobs, creating jobs, creating millions of good paying jobs. Not 15 bucks an hour, but prevailing wage, by having a new infrastructure that, in fact, is green." President Trump countered that, "You're talking about the Green New Deal," and said Democrats "want to rip down buildings and rebuild the buildings" under a plan with such an exorbitant cost, it "will destroy our country."

Quinnipiac University polls released September 29 said:

  • the presidential race in Georgia is too close to call with 50% of likely voters supporting Democratic nominee and former VP Joe Biden and 47% supporting President Trump
  • in the Georgia Senate race, 49% support Jon Ossoff and 48% support Senator David Perdue (R-GA)
  • in the Georgia Senate special election, Democrat Raphael Warnock leads with 31%, followed by Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) at 23%, GOP challenger Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) at 22% and Democrat Matt Lieberman at 9%

While not rated a toss-up by Cook Political Report, the special election in Georgia has been in the news as former President Obama endorsed Warnock and there is pressure for Lieberman to drop out to give Warnock a shot at winning more than 50% on November 3. If no candidate does, a runoff election between the top two candidates will be held January 5, 2021.


On September 29, the Treasury Department released final regulations (T.D. 9922; Final Regulations) and proposed regulations (REG-101657-20; Proposed Regulations) on determining the foreign tax credit, and allocating and apportioning deductions, under the Internal Revenue Code. The Final Regulations generally follow proposed regulations published on December 2, 2019, but make certain changes. See the EY Breaking Tax News.


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For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Washington Council Ernst & Young
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