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Washington Weekly Update 1-22-24

Situational Awareness
After passing a third “tiered” continuing resolution last Thursday that pushes funding expiration dates to March 1 and 8, lawmakers in the House of Representatives returned to their Congressional districts for a week-long recess. The Senate returns to Capitol Hill to resume negotiations on a Ukraine-border security agreement and consider several judicial and executive branch nominees.

House Tax-Writing Body Approves Bipartisan Tax Package

Last Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a bipartisan tax package along a 40-3 margin, an important first step to passing the bill that was intended to gauge Democrats’ support after progressive members signaled their opposition to the legislation. Top lawmakers reached a deal on the $80 billion tax package by expanding the child tax credit in exchange for the restoration of three expired business tax breaks. Notably, the legislation extends interest deductibility for businesses that borrow at higher interest rates to meet payroll obligations and expand operations, restores full and immediate deductions for capital expenses (i.e., equipment) and provides for immediate R&D deductions. The bill will now be sent to the House floor for a full vote. Lawmakers will have to determine whether to vote on the bill under suspension, which requires a two-thirds vote rather than a simple majority but prevents members from offering amendments that could delay passage. 

House T&I Introduces Water Permitting Bills

Republican members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introduced five bills aimed at reforming the Clean Water Act (CWA) to streamline and strengthen the permitting process carried out by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers:

  • The Nationwide Permitting Improvement Act would codify historical interpretation and practice around the Nationwide Permit (NWP) process, extend the period of reissuance for general permit holders from five to 10 years, and clarify that when issuing NWPs, only the categories within the confines of CWA Section 404 authority (dredge and fill material discharges) are considered.
  • The Reducing Permitting Uncertainty Act would prevent the EPA from vetoing a CWA Section 404 dredge and fill permit before a permit application has been filed or after a permit has already been issued by the Corps.
  • The Water Quality Criteria Development and Transparency Act would ensure that Section 304(a) water quality criteria used for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits are subject to Administrative Procedures Act notice and comment rulemaking requirements.
  • The Judicial Review Timeline Clarity Act would require that any lawsuit seeking judicial review of a Section 404 general or individual permit must be filed within the first 60 days of its issuance.
  • The Confidence in Clean Water Permits Act clarifies that NPDES permits must include only clear, objective, concrete limits on specific pollutants or waterbody conditions, and that as long as permit holders are adhering to these clear effluent limitations, they are in compliance under the law.

House Small Business Letter on Independent Contractors

The Chair of the House Committee on Small Business, Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas), submitted a letter to the Department of Labor (DOL) expressing concern about the agency’s final independent contractor rule, which grants equal consideration to all six factors of the “economic realities test” to determine whether a worker should be classified as an employee or an independent contractor. Chair Williams’ letter calls on DOL to delay implementation of the final rule as it fails to provide adequate analysis and consideration of small entities. Already, the final rule has been met with the first of what is likely to be several legal challenges–a group of freelance writers and editors sued DOL in a Georgia court on the grounds that the rule is vague to the extent to which it ought to be deemed unconstitutional. Additional lawsuits from business groups coupled with frustrations from top Republican lawmakers in the House could present an opportunity for committees of jurisdiction to hold additional hearings examining the final rule’s effect on businesses and workers alike.

NCC Session Added: Health Care Costs

NCA welcomes Joel White, president of the Council for Affordable Healthcare Coverage (CAHC), to the National Club Conference agenda. Founded in 2001, CAHC is a non-profit advocacy alliance of the nation’s largest employers, drug manufacturers, health insurers and patient organizations with a singular focus: bringing down the cost of health care so every American has access to affordable health coverage.

White is a 12-year veteran of Capitol Hill, most recently as staff director of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee. He is co-author of Facts and Figures on Government Finance (1992), which brings together data on public finance at all levels of government, with comparisons of taxing and spending levels spanning a half century. He will lead a session on Health Care Costs: Why Are They Going Up and What Can Be Done?, where will provide conference attendees the background they need to understand what’s happening and discuss what Congress and the administration are doing and the policies we need to reduce the cost of coverage. Today’s the last day to get the Conference Pre-sale Rate—register today.

Education sessions are a highlight at the annual National Club Conference—with a long history of nationally recognized names, local favorites and industry giants gracing the stage and delighting Conference attendees. NCC speakers provide content that is both entertaining and informative for general managers, club board members and presidents and club staff.

See Conference speakers here.