Yesterday, the Senate passed, by a voice-vote, a five-day government funding bill that will prevent a government shutdown tonight at midnight, pending a House vote later today. The continuing resolution (CR) is a temporary patch that will give them enough time to finalize a $1.1 trillion omnibus funding bill for the government through next October. However, it’s possible that another stop-gap bill will be needed next week as it remains doubtful that a final agreement will be made before this five-day CR runs out. Congress also still needs to address an extension of existing tax breaks before they expire on December 31. NAHU has been aggressively lobbying Congress to include a repeal of the Cadillac/excise tax in either of these items, and have called on our members to echo our message. Since last Monday, NAHU members have sent more than 8,300 messages to Congress and your employer clients have added almost another 400 messages echoing our call to include a repeal of the tax in one of the end-of-year deals. If you haven’t made your voice heard yet, take action before it’s too late! Send an Operation Shout today urging Congress to repeal the tax before the end of the year!
During the week, House Republican leaders expressed doubt that they would be able to pass legislation before Friday. The fundamental debate over the budget and tax extenders had largely been resolved; however, the minor details unrelated to budgetary or tax concerns are holding up a final agreement. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote to the Democratic caucus that the party agreed with Republicans on the overall budget number and how to distribute the funds; it was the other items being added to the packages that were holding up a bipartisan agreement. The biggest challenge appeared to be with how to handle the Syrian refugee crisis and whether to include a provision in the budget to tighten controls on refugees, while other issues like a ban on exporting crude oil, and periphery proposals to defund Planned Parenthood are also hampered progress. The final package needs to have bipartisan support because it is unlikely that Speaker Ryan will be able to get a majority of House Republicans to back the deal, as 151 Republicans rejected the last budget deal in September, requiring then-Speaker Boehner’s cooperation with Democrats. Both bills this week are moving together in negotiations, yet there has been little support for combining them together in a single legislative package.
NAHU remains hopeful that Congress will address the Cadillac/excise tax in one of the two packages. Congressional leaders have become increasingly interested in various ways to address the tax before the end of the year ranging from temporary fixes to permanent repeals. The most likely of these, given its lower cost, is a two-year delay of the tax, which House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said is a real possibility, along with delaying the medical device tax and a one-year delay of the health insurance tax, as part the tax extenders bill. NAHU remains committed to a full repeal of the tax and we will continue to make the case to officials as final details of the package are considered. If you haven’t sent an Operation Shout yet, we encourage you to make you voice heard telling Congress to repeal the tax in one of these end-of-year packages!