WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2015 - Congress is headed toward another last-minute, end-of-the-year renewal of expired tax breaks, with House leaders continuing to push for making some of them permanent.
“In these situations it’s always coming down to the last week to see what mix we’re able to get,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Monday.
Congress is set to adjourn for the year on Dec. 18, and one of the items on a long to-do list is the renewal of the expired tax benefits, which include the expanded Section 179 business expensing allowance, the 50-percent bonus depreciation provision, and tax subsidies for biodiesel and wind power.
The House earlier this year voted to make several of the so-called tax extenders permanent, including the Section 179 benefit, but the Senate Finance Committee has opted instead to revive the expired measures for 2015 and extend them through 2016.
Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has said he’s optimistic that House leaders will come around to the two-year extension, but McCarthy wasn’t showing his hand on Monday.
“If you watched the House, we started early moving a number of the bills permanently. You’ve got to have certainty, especially for small businesses, families and others.”
He said there have been “ongoing negotiations” that started with House Speaker Paul Ryan, when he was chairman of Ways and Means, and continue with his successor, Kevin Brady, R-Texas.
Republicans continue to argue that Congress doesn’t need to offset the lost revenue from cutting taxes.
“When it comes to taxes, the more people can keep in their own pocket, the economy can move faster,” McCarthy said. “It doesn’t need to be offset.”
McCarthy expressed confidence that Congress can enact a new, long-term surface transportation bill by the end of this week and a government-wide, fiscal 2016 spending bill by the time lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn Dec. 18.
Highway programs expire Dec. 4. The continuing resolution that is currently funding the government expires Dec. 11. McCarthy said another short-term extension of highway programs wouldn’t be needed, but he didn’t rule out a one-week extension of government funding.
He flatly ruled out a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood and other funding issues and said he expects the omnibus bill to have broad Republican support. The omnibus is expected to be the legislative vehicle to address a number of issues that are important to agriculture interests, including the Obama administration’s “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule. It also could be used to enact legislation preempting state GMO labeling regulations and extending child nutrition programs.