With reconciliation cleared off the desks of the Senate, Congress can now move a step closer to passing their two “must pass” items before they head home for the year. This includes the omnibus spending package that formally closes the loop from the budget agreement passed at the end of October, and a package to extend tax-breaks that were set to sunset at the end of the year. After the least productive Congress last year, this Congress is looking to show their ability to get things done, after passing a 1,300-page $305 billion five-year transportation and infrastructure package yesterday, that also re-opens the semi-controversial Export-Import Bank, all on a bipartisan vote of 83-16, showing once and for all that Congress is occasionally capable of getting things done.
NAHU is hopeful that the recent weeks of bipartisan action in Congress, in addition to the strong showing in an amendment vote to repeal the ACA’s Cadillac/excise tax in the reconciliation package, will lead to that tax being included in one of the two end-of-year “must-pass” pieces of legislation. The Senate voted 90-10 to delay the tax until 2024, with only Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Dan Coats (R-IN), Bob Corker (R-TN), Dick Durbin (D-IL),Tim Kaine (D-VA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Mark Warner (D-VA) voting against it. The overwhelming bipartisan vote clearly demonstrates that this is not a niche issue among labor unions, but that in short order every employer will be adversely impacted by the tax and that its fundamental nature could lead to the eventual downfall of the employer-based healthcare system.
Should the tax be repealed before the end of the year, the most likely path would be for it to be included in the year-end tax-extenders package, which is currently an $800 billion catch-all package to continue tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year. Both parties have floated the idea of including the Cadillac/excise tax in the package and the Obama Administration has recently said that including the repeal in the year-end package isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. Right now, the package is seen as a “Christmas Tree” given that everyone wants to attach their own pet item to the bill, and given its recent growth, is likely to be pared down before it is eventually passed. The deal violates many of the deficit reduction agreements and calls to return to regular order that were made earlier this year by Congress, further reducing the likelihood of the full $800 billion package being passed as-is.
NAHU is making a significant legislative push to get Congress to include the tax before the end of the year. Earlier this week, we sent an all-member Operation Shout asking everyone to contact their federal legislators urging them to support a repeal of the tax before the end of the year. If you haven’t yet taken action, it’s not too late! You can send an Operation Shout today and make your voice heard on the devastating impact that this tax will have on your employer clients. You can also tell your employer clients to take action here.