The Salt Lake Chamber policy team wanted to provide you an update on what to expect from Congress before the summer recess.
The Timeline: Congress will be in session for seven weeks before we hit August recess, and only an additional 3-4 weeks in September before the current federal government funding ends on September 30.
The Salt Lake Chamber will also be in Washington, D.C. during this time (Sept. 26-29). If you are interested in joining us: click here to learn more.
The Hill is highlighting 5 of the biggest legislative goals that are going to shape the summer.
Budget. Congress is still working on passing a budget, which is a key legislative step towards taking up tax reform.
The Utah Impact? The President’s proposed budget has lots of positives and negatives. This includes not addressing the real problem in Washington: entitlement reform. Our nation’s entitlement programs are unsustainable. If we do not make sensible reforms, the programs will go bankrupt—and so will the nation. No one can dispute that. The Chamber joined a letter urging Congress to act and will continue to press on this.
Debt Limit. The White House is urging Congress to raise the debt limit before August recess, which usually turns into political theater over promoting good policy. Read why our Chief Economist J.D. Foster is saying “It’s Time to Scrap the Debt Limit.”
The Utah Impact? Utah business leaders were in Washington, D.C. when the last government shutdown happened. The U.S. Chamber’s proposal is an interesting one because as they put it: “The practical effect of the debt limit has been to manufacture a series of distracting and economically dangerous political crises.“ Our own Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has said, “We have to do it. We can’t let the government default. I don’t know if it has to be done” before the August recess.
Funding. The Fiscal Year ends on September 30th, and so does the current funding for the federal government. Historically, Congress works to pass 12 appropriation bills that cover the major government departments (for example: Defense, Agriculture, etc.), but it’s been a slow start this year.
The Utah Impact? We need Washington to work, and that starts with passing these appropriations bills. It also means we need new ideas and reforms, such as Senator Lee (R-Utah) introducing the “Agency Accountability Act of 2017”, a bill that would direct most fines, fees, and other unappropriated proceeds to the Treasury, making them subject to the appropriations process.
Tax Reform. It hasn’t happened since Reagan won bipartisan consensus in 1986, and real and permanent tax reform is long overdue.
The Utah Impact? Utah businesses need national tax reform. Among all industrialized countries the U.S. corporate tax rate now is the highest, meaning Utah companies are losing their comparative and competitive advantages. And that’s before accounting for antiquated international tax rules. Utah’s business environment and tax code are among the most competitive in the nation. But globally it’s really the law of averages. Our nation’s tax code is a drag on growth, wages, and global competitiveness.
PETITION ALERT: Add your name for real tax reform – the petition closes at the end of the month. That’s Wednesday night!
Health Care. The Senate is took the Memorial Day recess to dig into the details of tackling health care, and will likely surface with a plan that doesn’t look too similar to the House passed American Health Care Act. The goal is to find 50 votes in the Senate to pass legislation and get to a conference committee, where the House and Senate can negotiate differences in their respective bills.
The Utah Impact? In many ways, Utah’s health systems are the envy of the world—they have helped many individuals live longer than ever and enjoy a better quality of life than previously possible. However, we continue to face the challenge of making quality health care more affordable, more accessible, and more reliable for all Americans. The Chamber is focused on promoting effective private sector solutions to our health care challenges that will help control costs, expand access, and improve the quality of care.
The Takeaway: The calendar stops for no person, no party and no policy. Can elected officials navigate these realities to pass policies that get the government better aligned with the interests of the business community of the top-performing economy in the nation?
Speak up for Utah businesses, jobs and our quality of life and contact Abby Osborne, VP of Government Relations (firstname.lastname@example.org) to reach out to your member in the Federal Delegation.