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February 12, 2024

What to expect in Washington (February 12)

The Senate was in session over the weekend for votes on a national security supplemental funding measure with funding for Ukraine, Israel, and other priorities — without bipartisan border security provisions — and is back today during what was supposed to be the start of a two-week President's Day recess February 12-23.

Following a critical 67-27 procedural vote on Sunday on Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray's (D-WA) $95 billion substitute amendment to H.R. 815, the legislative vehicle for supplemental appropriations, there was to be 30 hours of debate before a vote on the amendment. Joining Democrats were 18 Republicans who voted in favor of the procedural vote. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who caucuses with Democrats, voted 'no' and Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) didn't vote.

"I can't remember the last time the Senate was in session on Super Bowl Sunday, but as I've said all week long, we're going to keep working on this bill until the job is done," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) objected to expediting the chamber's process for considering the bill. The Senate convenes at noon today, February 12, and unless an agreement is reached, there will be two votes at approximately 8:30 p.m. on adoption of the Murray substitute and cloture on the underlying bill.

The New York Times: "The bipartisan coalition that has carried the bill thus far will have to stick together for a few more votes before the Senate votes on approving the foreign assistance package and sending it to the House, where Speaker Mike Johnson is facing threats from the right to try to oust him if he puts a Ukraine aid bill on the floor. The pushback from the hard-liners in the House G.O.P. is one reason Republicans have been so insistent on being allowed to propose revisions to the measure before voting on whether to pass it."

Tax — Upon returning from recess, the Senate may focus on government funding deadlines March 1 and 8 and the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 (H.R. 7024) TCJA pre-cliffs and Child Tax Credit (CTC) bill, which Republicans say needs a Finance Committee markup.

Punchbowl News reported Sunday evening: "Ways and Means staff presented Thursday at a Senate GOP chiefs meeting. The House staff addressed questions on the business and child tax credit policies in the package, the Senate process and the politics of the effort, according to a source in attendance. But it wasn't all sunshine. Multiple Republican chiefs stood up at the end of the presentation to slam the bill, according to several sources in the room. There are strong forces working against the deal, particularly with a handful of Finance Committee members critiquing it publicly."

Budget — The February 7 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) update to The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2024 to 2034 continues to attract attention for its estimates of debt over the budget window. "CBO forecasts that under current law the national debt will grow to $48.3 trillion in 2034 from $26.2 trillion this last fiscal year — a whopping 84% increase. Debt as a share of GDP will rise to 116% in 2034 from 97.3%. As helpful historical context, the U.S. added $22.3 trillion in debt in its entire history through 2021, about as much as it's projected to pile on over the next 10 years," the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial page said. "Don't blame Americans for not paying enough taxes. Revenues are expected to average 17.8% of GDP through 2034, which is more than the 17.3% average over the last 50 years."

Congress — The House is in session this week. While not currently listed on the floor schedule, a vote may occur on the rule for consideration of the SALT Marriage Penalty Elimination Act (H.R. 7160), to provide a $20,000 SALT deduction cap for joint filers with adjusted gross income of less than $500,000 for 2023.

On Thursday, February 15 at 10 a.m., the House Ways & Means Committee is holding a hearing with IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel. In a December letter, Committee Republicans called on Commissioner Werfel to testify following the agency's decision to delay implementation of the American Rescue Plan Act's (ARPA) lower 1099-K reporting threshold of $600 rather than $20,000.

Health hearings include the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing on "Legislative Proposals to Support Patients and Caregivers" on Wednesday, February 14 at 10 a.m.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) is the latest member to announce he is not running for re-election. A WSJ story said, "He had previously ruled out a run for the U.S. Senate, saying he preferred to stay in the House, where he felt his work as a committee chair would make a lasting impact. Republicans had hoped he would run because the Wisconsin Senate seat is one of eight Democratic-held seats rated by the Cook Political Report, a non-partisan election arbiter, as at risk of falling to Republican hands."

According to a list maintained by the House Press Gallery, there are currently more than 40 House members who are retiring or seeking other office.

On Friday, former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) filed to run for the seat of retiring Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) praised Hogan entering the race. A Hill Newspaper story detailed McConnell courting Hogan to run. "To be competitive in a blue state like that is quite a boost for us," McConnell said.

February 13 is the special election between Republican Mazi Pilip and former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) in New York.

Friday, February 16 (12 p.m.) is the EY Webcast, "Tax in a time of transition: legislative, economic, regulatory and IRS developments."

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Contact Information

For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:

Washington Council Ernst & Young