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April 15, 2024

What to expect in Washington (April 15)

Congress is in session this week before a one-week recess for both the House and Senate next week, and it's tax day today, April 15 — for most taxpayers, the deadline to file their personal federal tax return, pay any tax owed or request an extension — meaning a traditional greater focus this week on operations at the IRS and, possibly, the House-passed Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act (H.R. 7024) business tax and Child Tax Credit (CTC) bill that is stalled in the Senate. Trade is getting some renewed focus in Congress this week, with USTR hearings in the tax-writing committees and potential Ways & Means consideration of bills addressing expired programs and other issues.

Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) announced on Saturday that the House schedule for the week, which was previously to perhaps include consideration of a Ukraine funding measure, is being refocused given the events of the weekend. "The House will move from its previously announced legislative schedule next week to instead consider legislation that supports our ally Israel … " he said. "The House of Representatives stands strongly with Israel, and there must be consequences for this unprovoked attack. More details on the legislative items to be considered will be forthcoming." House Republicans will hold a conference meeting on Israel and defense funding today at 5:30 p.m.

Ukraine and Israel funding have been intertwined. The House passed an Israel-only funding bill last year, the cost of which was offset with a rescission of expanded IRS funding, then Republicans leaders dropped the IRS piece and challenged the Democratic-led Senate to pass a clean Israel funding bill (without the IRS funding rescission offset). The Senate February 13 approved a national security supplemental bill with funding for Ukraine, Israel, and other priorities after dropping efforts to add a boost for border security. Some House conservatives want border security addressed instead of or alongside the foreign aid.

The Hill newspaper said Rep. Scalise's statement "did not provide clarity as to whether the Louisiana Republican was making a reference to the $95 billion supplemental spending bill which encompasses $14 billion for Israel or the stand-alone bill for Israel. The $95 billion supplemental also includes $60 billion for Ukraine, funds for Taiwan and humanitarian assistance. It passed the Senate in February but has yet to be put on the lower chamber's floor, where the package faces resistance from some hard-right Republican lawmakers since it includes funds for Ukraine. The supplemental bill is also not supported by some progressive House Democrats who oppose sending more money to Israel … "

Later, on Fox News, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said: "A few days after I became speaker way back in October, we passed our Israel support package. It's been sitting on Chuck Schumer's desk ever since, because we included a pay-for, as you remember. What a concept. We took from the IRS expansion slush fund to pay for the Israel priority. We tried it again just about a month-and-a-half ago, a clean Israel, that many Democrats, 166, as I remember in the House, voted against. Why? Because President Joe Biden said that he would veto that. So, the House Republicans and the Republican Party understand the necessity of standing with Israel. We're going to try again this week. And the details of that package are being put together right now. We're looking at the options on all these supplemental issues."

Several House Financial Services Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee bills have been added to the schedule for House consideration this week.

The Senate reconvenes at 3 p.m. today, April 15, with a vote at 5:30 p.m. in relation to the nomination of Ramona Villagomez Manglona to be Judge for the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands.

Tax — While the tax filing deadline has at times been viewed as a symbolic, if not technical, deadline for the Senate to pass the business tax and CTC bill, there has been no indication of any imminent action, which could involve Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) holding a test vote to determine whether there are the requisite Republican votes required to meet the 60-vote threshold for most legislation, with the expectation that most or all Democrats would vote in favor. Leader Schumer said last week that while he is personally supportive of the measure, efforts to secure the requisite votes are ongoing.

A Wall Street Journal story this morning on the bill reported, "Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), the bill's co-author, said he isn't giving up just because April 15 is passing. 'People that I represent say that a bunch of people in politics are putting their timetable and their interest and their agenda ahead of them,' he said. 'Now, if Republicans come back here and say, you know we've been listening to people and we need a little bit more time to get this done, we can work through that.'" The story noted that Finance Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) has concerns about the lookback provision allowing prior-year earnings to qualify for the CTC and "is seeking a deal that could get a majority of Republicans to support, not just the bare minimum to get to 60 votes."

Tuesday, April 16 at 10:30 a.m. is the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the President's Fiscal Year 2025 IRS Budget and the IRS 2024 Filing Season with Commissioner Daniel Werfel.

Trade — Also on Tuesday, April 16 at 10 a.m. is the Ways & Means hearing on the Biden Administration's 2024 Trade Policy Agenda with United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai. The Senate Finance hearing with Ambassador Tai is Wednesday, April 17 at 10 a.m. The Ways & Means Committee may also consider some trade bills addressing issues like the Generalized System of Preferences program.

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For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:

Washington Council Ernst & Young