Heritage Action Call Notes December 2017

Call Notes December 11. 2017

Congress is in session! Last week the House and Senate, respectively, voted to begin negotiations (in a conference committee) on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (H.R.1) – aka ‘Tax Reform’. A majority of conferees will need to sign-off on the conference report before the House and Senate can each vote on the final report and send it to the President’s desk for signature.

The House and Senate also voted on December 7th to extend the Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the federal government for two more weeks, leaving a December 22nd deadline for an additional government funding bill, and potentially other policy disputes before the holidays. We know this is bad practice and usually ends up as ‘Christmas for Congress’ unless they hear from you loud and clear. Their priority should be to cut spending!

Core priorities for this week:

1. Tax Reform: Tell lawmakers to quickly pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with key conservative priorities; including the 20 percent corporate rate, elimination of Obamacare’s individual mandate tax penalty, and near-full repeal of the state and local tax deduction. Chart comparing the differences between the House and Senate bills.

2. Reduce Spending: Tell lawmakers to oppose a bad year-end budget deal. Congress should not bust the spending caps, but instead establish one discretionary spending cap and fully offset any increase in federal spending with spending cuts or reforms.

3. Immigration: Tell lawmakers to support President Trump’s efforts to end DACA, eliminate the diversity visa program, end family-based chain migration, and oppose bipartisan efforts to pass amnesty – including on a December omnibus spending package. Congress should secure our borders and reform legal immigration prior to addressing DACA.

>>Find Your Members’ Contact Info<<

We have Activist Toolkits for many of our legislative priorities. Get the state of play, key talking points, asks for your member, and more here: http://heritageaction.com/toolkits/

Take a moment now to read the full Call Notes below and you will be prepared for the busy policy week ahead! Please reach out to me over email or phone at 202-716-9738 if you have any questions, comments, intel, or just want to chat policy.  I have been fielding calls from Sentinels who have questions on the tax reform legislation and in each case have been able to get them the information they needed to set the record straight. I’m here as a resource for you and I want to help!

Thank you for taking action to impact Congress! Now is the time to #MakeDCListen!

Sincerely,

Melody

Melody Clarke

Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator / Cell: 202-716-9738

Tell a Friend about our Sentinel Program!

Follow us on Twitter: @Heritage_Action and me, @TheRightMelody.  Our hashtag is #Haction.

melody.clarke@heritageaction.com

 

December 11th: Sentinel Weekly Action Guide

Washington, D.C. Update:

Congress is closing in on a key campaign promise to reform our federal tax code and provide significant tax relief to all Americans, and large and small U.S. businesses. On December 5th and 6th, the House and Senate, respectively, each voted to begin negotiations (in a conference committee) on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (H.R.1). A majority of conferees will need to sign-off on a measure (conference report) before the House and Senate can each vote on the final report and send it to the President’s desk for signature. The House and Senate also voted on December 7th to extend the Continuing Resolution (CR) funding the federal government for two more weeks, leaving a December 22nddeadline for an additional government funding bill, and potentially other policy disputes before the holidays. The Senate will likely vote on three circuit court nominees this week. The Senate Banking committee is expected to vote on nominees to the Export Import Bank by the end of this year.

Core priorities for this week:

  1. Tax Reform: Tell lawmakers to quickly pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with key conservative priorities; including the 20 percent corporate rate, elimination of Obamacare’s individual mandate tax penalty, and near-full repeal of the state and local tax deduction.

  2. Reduce Spending: Tell lawmakers to oppose a bad year-end budget deal. Congress should not bust the spending caps, but instead establish one discretionary spending cap and fully offset any increase in federal spending with spending cuts or reforms.

  3. Immigration: Tell lawmakers to support President Trump’s efforts to end DACA, eliminate the diversity visa program, end family-based chain migration, and oppose bipartisan efforts to pass amnesty – including on a December omnibus spending package. Congress should secure our borders and reform legal immigration prior to addressing DACA.

  4. Obamacare: Tell senators to oppose any straight bailout of Obamacare, including the Alexander-Murray proposal and support President Trump’s decision to end the illegal cost share reduction (CSR) payments to insurance companies.

Taxes
Pro-Growth Tax Reform

State of Play: Last week, the Senate passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Actafter a drawn out process. Heritage Action key voted in support of the bill because it will both grow the economy and deliver meaningful tax relief to all Americans if signed into law. The House and Senate versions need to be reconciled in a conference committee, which is currently underway and meets formally this Wednesday. The committee is tasked with reconciling the differences in the Senate and House tax reform bills. Heritage Action supported both the House and Senate tax reform proposals, but slightly favors the Senate version as it repeals the Obamacare individual mandate tax penalty. Importantly, both bills will increase economic growth, raise wages for American workers, and create jobs.  

Action Item: Sentinels should tell lawmakers to quickly pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act with key conservative priorities; including the 20 percent corporate rate, elimination of Obamacare’s individual mandate tax penalty, and near-full repeal of the state and local tax deduction.

Below are the Congressional Republicans who opposed the House GOP bill:

  • California: Reps. Darrell Issa, Tom McClintock, Dana Rohrabacher

  • New Jersey: Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen, Leonard Lance, Frank LoBiondo, Chris Smith

  • New York: Reps. Dan Donovan, John Faso, Pete King, Elise Stefanik, Lee Zeldin

  • North Carolina: Rep. Walter Jones

  • Tennessee: Sen. Bob Corker

Resources:
Heritage Action key vote: http://heritageaction.com/key-votes/yes-tax-cuts-jobs-act-h-r-1/
Heritage Action activist toolkit: http://heritageaction.com/2017/08/tax-reform-toolkit/
Sentinel Brief: http://heritageaction.com/2017/08/need-pro-growth-tax-reform/
Heritage Action Myth vs. Fact: http://heritageaction.com/2017/10/pro-growth-tax-reform-myth-vs-fact/
Daily Signal: After Months of Inaction, Senate Republicans Must Seize Chance to Pass Tax Reform: http://dailysignal.com/2017/11/28/months-inaction-senate-republicans-must-seize-chance-pass-tax-reform/

Budget & Spending
Enforce Fiscal Controls

State of Play: Congress approved a two-week spending bill that will extend government funding right up until Christmas. Some lawmakers are shamefully seeking to exploit the last minute nature of a shutdown to force a budget deal that raises out-of-control government spending without any enforceable fiscal controls. The Budget Control Act (BCA) imposes fiscal discipline on Congress by limiting discretionary spending for both defense and nondefense government functions to certain annual spending levels. These spending levels, or “BCA caps”, are set in law and enforced by a process known as “sequestration.” Members of Congress have an extra incentive this December to formally break the BCA caps as any increase in spending above current law will cause automatic across-the-board spending cuts. Media reports suggest congressional leaders are moving towards a two-year budget deal that would raise the spending caps by $200 billion – totaling more than all increases from past deals combined.

Action Item: Sentinels should ask their members of Congress to 1) extend federal funding into January 2018 to avoid an fiscally reckless end of the year omnibus, 2) adopt an overall discretionary spending cap (instead of the current separate caps on defense and nondefense programs, or spending “firewall”), 3) extend the BCA spending controls beyond their current expiration date of 2021, and 4) make sure any spending increases in the year end budget deal are fully offset, including interest costs incurred over the 10-year budget window.

Resource:
Heritage Action Memo: Fiscal Sanity in The Year End Budget Deal:http://heritageaction.com/2017/12/memo-fiscal-sanity-year-end-budget-deal/
Congress Could Soon Face a Budget Fight. Here’s How Lawmakers Can Rein in Spending:http://www.heritage.org/budget-and-spending/commentary/congress-could-soon-face-budget-fight-heres-how-lawmakers-can-rein

Immigration
Ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

State of Play: The Trump administration announced an end to DACA with a delayed enforcement date of March 5th, 2018. The six month delay is intended to spur congressional action to address both DACA, but could also become a vehicle to address the broader immigration failures. The administration unveiled a list of 70 immigration-related policiesCongress should pursue in conjunction with DACA efforts, including the elimination of the “Diversity Visa Lottery” in favor of a merit-based immigration system. A group of 34 House Republicans sent a letter asking Republican Leadership to provide a DACA fix by the end of the year.

Action Item: Sentinels should ask their members of Congress to support President Trump’s efforts to end the unconstitutional and illegal DACA program and enforce U.S. immigration laws, secure our borders, and reform our broken legal immigration system that includes the repeal of the Diversity Visa Lottery program. Additionally, the 1986 mistake of trading amnesty (i.e., DACA) now for border security funding later should not be repeated. Congress should pursue meaningful reforms such as ending chain migration and replacing it with a merit based immigration system. Congress should reject efforts by democrats and moderate Republicans to codify DACA on any upcoming spending package.

Resources:
Heritage Action toolkit: http://heritageaction.com/2017/09/no-amnesty-toolkit/
Heritage Action diversity visa lottery memo: http://heritageaction.com/2017/11/eliminating-diversity-visa-lottery-right-way/
Why Congress Should Not Legalize DACA: The Myths Surrounding the Program: http://www.heritage.org/immigration/report/why-congress-should-not-legalize-daca-the-myths-surrounding-the-program

Healthcare
No Obamacare Bailouts

State of Play: The Trump administration’s cancellation of illegal Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments to insurance companies spurred Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., to announce a deal to restore those payments. According to media reports, Senate Leadership will include the Alexander-Murray bailout of Obamacare cost share reduction (CSR) payments to insurance companies as part of an end-of-year budget deal. Some moderate Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), demanded this provision as a prerequisite for tax reform or inclusion in a potential year-end spending deal.

Action Item: Sentinels should support the Trump administration’s decision to oppose any effort to bailout Obamacare. Heritage Action will continue to 1) oppose any bipartisan efforts to bailout Obamacare and 2) urge the president to overturn the Office of Personnel Management (OPM)’s 2013-era guidance that authorized illegal insurance subsidies for lawmakers and congressional staff so they wouldn’t feel the full burden of Obamacare.

Resources:
Heritage Action activist toolkit: http://heritageaction.com/2017/06/senate-ahca-activist-toolkit/
Heritage Action press release: GOP Splits on Repealing Obamacare’s Regulatory Architecture: http://heritageaction.com/press-releases/gop-splits-repealing-obamacares-regulatory-architecture/
Sentinel brief on Obamacare bailouts: https://heritageaction.com/2017/08/no_more_obamacare_bailouts/
Sentinel brief on Obamacare exemption for Congress: https://heritageaction.com/2017/08/end-obamacare-exemption-congress/

Internet Freedom
Repeal Net Neutrality.

State of Play: As an independent agency, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is charged with regulating interstate communications like radio, television, satellite, and the internet. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently announced his intention to repeal an Obama-era rule regulating broadband internet service providers as public utilities. This misguided Obama-era rule applied 1930s regulations designed for telephone companies to 21st century internet service providers in a gross overreach of federal authority. FCC’s announced “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” will help free the internet by classifying broadband internet access service as an “information service” subject to a much lighter and more appropriate regulatory framework.

Action Item: Sentinels should ask their members of Congress to support Chairman Pai and his efforts to roll back Obama-era net neutrality rules. These costly and unnecessary regulations hinder investment, innovation, and job creation. The full FCC will vote on the Chairman’s plan on December 14th.

Resources:
Heritage Action press release: http://heritageaction.com/press-releases/fcc-takes-weed-whacker-net-neutrality-rules/
Daily Signal interview with FCC Chairman Pai: https://www.facebook.com/TheDailySignalNews/videos/957825704383382/

Welfare
Work Requirements for Food Stamps

State of Play: Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced a work for welfare bill called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 2996). This legislation would help reduce poverty and government dependency, increase self-sufficiency, and restore families by strengthening the effective and popular work requirements for all able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDS) who receive food stamps (SNAP).

Action Item: Sentinels should ask their members of Congress to cosponsor H.R. 2996. Click this link http://heritageaction.com/foodstamps/ for a list of cosponsors.

Resources:
Heritage Action activist toolkit: http://heritageaction.com/2017/07/snap-activism-toolkit/
Sentinel brief: http://heritageaction.com/2017/06/welfare-reform-work-requirements-food-stamps/
Heritage Action key vote co-sponsorship: http://heritageaction.com/key-votes/co-sponsorship-supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-reform-act-2017-h-r-2996/

Higher Education
Accreditation Reform

State of Play: Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) introduced the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity (HERO) Act (H.R.4274). This legislation would empower states with the option to develop their own systems of accrediting colleges and universities, individual courses and curricula, and apprenticeship programs. The HERO Act would decouple federal financing from accreditation so that federal dollars follow the student, not the institution, unleashing new and innovative approaches to higher education in the 21st Century economy. On Tuesday the House Committee on Education and Workforce will mark up the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act (H.R. 4508). The PROSPER Act is a higher education authorization bill and potential vehicle that could be used by conservatives to pass HERO Act provisions.

Action Item: Sentinels should ask their members of Congress to cosponsor the HERO Act.

Resources:
Heritage Action key vote co-sponsorship: http://heritageaction.com/key-votes/co-sponsorship-higher-education-reform-opportunity-hero-act-2017-h-r-4274/