Ryan McCrimmon

End of an Era on Senate Finance as Longtime Staffer Departs
Mark Prater was figure in major tax debates dating to the 1990s

Mark Prater, a fixture in GOP tax policymaking on Capitol Hill, is leaving his post as chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee.

“Mark has played a vital role in every major tax debate in the last quarter century,” Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch announced Tuesday in a statement, noting Prater’s work on last year’s tax code overhaul, the Bush-era tax cuts and more. He joined the Finance Committee in January 1990. Tuesday was his last day with the panel.

Rescissions Package On Hold While GOP Deliberates
GAO delivers relatively good news, even as schedule slips

Congressional auditors delivered some good news for the White House and House GOP leaders on Tuesday, saying in a report that President Donald Trump’s $15.2 billion spending cuts proposal mostly meets tests laid out in the 1974 statute establishing the “rescissions” process — even as leaders decided to put off consideration of the package until next month. 

The Government Accountability Office found that two Transportation Department accounts slated for $134 million in cuts can’t legally be “impounded,” or blocked by the administration during the initial 45-day period after submission of the requests to Congress. The rest of the cuts, including rescissions from mandatory spending accounts like the Children’s Health Insurance Program, are allowed to go forward under the 1974 law establishing the modern rescissions process, according to the GAO.

For GOP, Death of Manufacturing Loan Program Finally in Sight
Unspent money dating back years makes it an easy, yet still elusive, target

One way or another, the Energy Department’s direct loan program for fuel-efficient car manufacturers looks destined for the chopping block.

Once viewed as a lifeline for Detroit’s “Big Three” manufacturers facing economic headwinds even before the onset of the Great Recession, the program is now little more than a kitty of untapped funds appropriated a decade ago. The last major Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program loan was approved conditionally in 2015, but Arconic Inc., whose former parent Alcoa secured the loan to produce lightweight vehicle materials at its Tennessee plant, turned the money down last year.

Kombucha Industry and Others Seek Tax Breaks of Their Own
Advocates push for changes they say are in sync with GOP tax overhaul goals

Now that President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have redesigned the tax code, niche markets from bitcoin buyers to kombucha makers and cannabis businesses are seeking their turn at the tax cut trough.

Producers of kombucha, a fermented tea drink growing in popularity with millennials, yogis and more, want lawmakers to ensure they’re free from alcohol excise taxes. Marijuana dispensaries are aiming to ease restrictions blocking them from claiming the same tax breaks as other small businesses. And amid a growing cryptocurrency craze, advocates are seeking to exempt transactions of bitcoin and other virtual currencies from strict IRS reporting requirements.

Aides: House Will Take Up Balanced-Budget Amendment Next Week
Democrats pan move as a face-saving gimmick

The House will vote next week on a balanced-budget amendment authored by Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, GOP aides said Thursday.

The measure would bar Congress from spending more than the government takes in each year, unless three-fifths of each chamber voted to allow excess outlays. It would also require a three-fifths majority to raise the debt limit, a high bar for one of the most unpopular votes lawmakers take every few years.

Podcast: The GOP's About-Face on Deficits
CQ Budget, Episode 54

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Omnibus Drops as House Speeds Toward Vote
Lawmakers could vote as early as Thursday on $1.3 trillion package

Lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled a $1.3 trillion omnibus package that would erase years of budget cuts and fund some of Republicans’ and Democrats’ top priorities.

The fiscal 2018 measure delivers on two of President Donald Trump’s biggest goals: a massive increase in military spending and new funds for border security and immigration enforcement. The omnibus would provide $700 billion for the Pentagon in all, or 10 percent more than the prior year, and close to $1.6 billion to bolster enforcement on the U.S.-Mexico border, including construction of 33 miles of new fencing — though aides said funds for a “concrete wall” were not included.

Podcast: Top Appropriators Seek Hometown Cash as Shutdown Threat Nears
CQ Budget, Episode 52

CQ appropriation reporters Kellie Mejdrich and Ryan McCrimmon explain how a committee chairmanship can pay off in more ways than one and why Republicans are once again talking about another round of tax cuts.

 

Podcast: The Policy Fights That Could Upend Final 2018 Spending Bill
CQ Budget, Episode 50

With half of fiscal year 2018 already behind them, lawmakers are struggling with a catch-all spending bill to fund the rest of the year, but controversial issues popping up — from gun control legislation to the border wall — could cripple talks, says CQ budget and appropriations reporter Ryan McCrimmon.

Show Notes:

10 Policy Issues to Watch in Omnibus Spending Bill
Policy debates could complicate process

A swath of sticky policy debates could entangle an upcoming final spending package for fiscal 2018, as lawmakers aim to attach their pet policy “riders” to the must-pass bill.

Negotiators are aiming to complete work on the massive $1.2 trillion bill and pass it before March 23, when the fifth stopgap funding measure of the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, expires. Before they do, they’ll need a deal on which policy issues, from guns and immigration to Russia’s election meddling, will ride alongside the spending package.

Podcast: Guns, Immigration Could Trip Up Long-Awaited 2018 Spending Plan
CQ Budget, Episode 49

CQ budget and appropriations reporter Ryan McCrimmon previews what lawmakers are likely to include in a catch-all fiscal 2018 spending bill and the issues that could spark controversy.

Show Notes:

Budget Won’t Balance as Economic Growth Dividend Shrinks
Trump request Includes major military buildup

President Donald Trump on Monday unveiled his annual fiscal 2019 budget request, a $4.4 trillion blueprint that does not balance after 10 years while calling for a major military buildup and assuming lower savings from economic growth than in last year’s iteration.

The tax and spending plan aims to trim $3.6 trillion from annual deficits over the next 10 years through program cuts and associated savings on debt service payments, while bringing in an extra $813 billion in revenue from economic growth.

Rettig Tapped for Top IRS Job
Agency facing critical time with new tax law implementation

President Donald Trump on Thursday announced he will nominate longtime tax lawyer Charles Rettig to be the next commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.

Rettig, if confirmed by the Senate, would take over at a critical time for the agency tasked with implementing the most sweeping tax code overhaul in decades. He’s currently with the Beverly Hills, California-based firm Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher & Perez, PC, and is a vice-chairman for the taxation body of the American Bar Association.

Kentucky Colleges Get a Boost From Budget Deal
Host of tax code goodies tucked into bipartisan agreement

At least two colleges in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky would come out winners under the sweeping budget accord unveiled Wednesday.

For starters, the budget legislation would amend the brand new tax code overhaul to help out Kentucky’s Berea College, which would otherwise be subject to a new 1.4 percent tax on private college and university endowments. GOP leaders’ intent had been to exempt Berea and others that provide free tuition, but they ran into a sticky procedural thicket in the Senate that cost the Kentucky school in the final bill.

Some 2017 Tax Filers May Lose Key Tax Breaks
Tax ‘extenders’ package remains in limbo as spending talks drag on

With tax filing season getting underway this week, certain industries and taxpayers are still waiting for Congress to act on a slate of expired tax breaks, left out of last year’s sweeping tax code overhaul and now mired in a sticky debate over spending and immigration.

The result is that affected stakeholders, ranging from homeowners upside down on their mortgages to biodiesel fuel producers, can’t fully share in the $1.5 trillion tax cut’s largesse touted by President Donald Trump in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address as “tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.”

Senate Passes Three-Week CR to Reopen Federal Government

The Senate voted 81-18 to pass a continuing resolution running through Feb. 8 on Monday afternoon, sending it back to the House as Day Three of the partial government shutdown dragged on.

The House is expected to clear the stopgap for President Donald Trump’s signature, ending the shutdown in time for federal workers to return to their offices Tuesday morning. A number of House Democrats appear likely to back the measure after opposing a previous version last week, and top Democrats predicted the CR would be passed this time.

IRS Underfunded in Wake of Tax Overhaul, Agency Advocate Says
Calls from confused taxpayers are likely to spike

The IRS needs more cash from Congress to implement the new Republican tax code overhaul, the agency’s public advocate said Wednesday.

A new report from National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson to lawmakers highlights the need for more funding for the IRS to update tax systems, train employees, draft and publish new tax forms, answer calls from confused taxpayers and more. The cash-strapped agency hasn’t yet determined how much money it will need to implement the new tax law, but a preliminary assessment last year put the additional cost at roughly $495 million over fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019, which begins Oct. 1.

Senate Passes GOP Tax Plan After Procedural Stumble
House must vote again on Wednesday

By RYAN McCRIMMON and PAUL M. KRAWZAK

The Senate early Wednesday passed a final version of the GOP tax plan, leaving Republicans and President Donald Trump within striking distance of the most sweeping overhaul of the tax code in decades and their top policy goal for the year.

Landmark GOP Tax Bill Poised for Final Passage
Measure may pass through both chambers before Christmas

Republicans late Friday unveiled their final plan to overhaul the tax code, a sweeping measure that aims to lower taxes on businesses and individuals, open up parts of Alaska to oil drilling and roll back a key piece of the 2010 health care law.

The massive measure is likely to pass both chambers early next week. Momentum for the landmark package grew throughout the day Friday, capped off with a surprise announcement from Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., that he would back the final bill after opposing a previous version.

GOP Tax Bill Signed, Nearly Sealed and Delivered

Republican tax writers signed off Friday on a compromise plan to overhaul the tax code, bringing House and Senate negotiations to a close and setting up final votes on the legislation early next week.

The tax conference agreement was set to be released Friday at 5:30 p.m. Some key details are already known, like a proposed corporate tax rate of 21 percent; a top individual rate of 37 percent; and a 20 percent deduction for “pass-through” business income.