Michael B Enzi

GOP Tax Bill Signed, Nearly Sealed and Delivered

Senate Finance Chairman Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, left, and House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, conduct the Senate-House Conference Committee meeting on the GOP tax bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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.

Looming Spending Deadline Leads to Tax Consideration Crunch
Senate must turn attention to government shutdown threat by early next week

The Senate faces a deadline crunch on taxes this week so it can turn to another deadline on appropriations next week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

If the tax reconciliation bill somehow doesn’t make it to the Senate floor this week, it may have to wait until much closer to Christmas.

Pushing the measure back just a week would not seem to be an option because of December’s other deadline crush: the expiration of the current continuing resolution funding the government through Dec. 8.

Senate Adopts Budget With House-Backed Changes
Late amendment expected to help speed up consideration of a tax overhaul

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives for lunch with Senate Republicans in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate adopted a fiscal 2018 budget resolution Thursday night that was amended at the 11th hour with the aim of making it acceptable enough to House Republicans to avoid a conference committee and speed the consideration of a tax overhaul.

The budget was adopted 51-49.

Senate Moves to Adopt House-Backed Budget Changes
Amendment negates need to go to conference to iron out differences

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi’s amendment modified the House-passed budget resolution. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate on Thursday night agreed, 52-48, to an amendment by Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi that modified the House-passed budget resolution, jettisoning reconciliation instructions aimed at getting $203 billion in mandatory spending cuts. 

Instead, the Wyoming Republican’s amendment replaces the House directive for a deficit-neutral tax cut with one that could add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years, similar to the Senate’s.

Budget Debate, Grievances Get Airing in Both Chambers

From left, Rep. Richard Neal, Sen. Ron Wyden, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer,  Rep. John Yarmuth, Rep. Barbara Lee, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Sen. Bernie Sanders conduct a news conference in the Capitol Wednesday to speak out against Republicans’ tax and budget plan that they say will benefit the wealthy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Floor action on the fiscal 2018 budget resolution — made possible by assuaging conservatives’ concerns over the emerging tax overhaul blueprint last week — officially got under way on Wednesday.

The House voted 232-188 to approve parameters for debate and moved on to formally debating the resolution. Once the House and Senate formally adopt a joint budget resolution, if they can get that far, the tax-writing committees will be able to produce filibuster-proof tax legislation through the fast-track reconciliation process.

Enzi Losing Veteran Aide Eric Ueland as Budget Fight Heats Up
State Department gain is Budget Committee loss

Eric Ueland, left, nominee for undersecretary for management at the State Department, is introduced by Wyoming Sen. Michael B. Enzi at a Senate Foreign Relations confirmation hearing Sept. 12. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans are bracing for the loss of Eric Ueland, one of their top procedural experts, at a time when they face the potentially formidable tasks of getting a budget resolution and tax overhaul passed in the Senate.

Ueland, who served as GOP staff director of the Senate Budget Committee for the past four years, is President Donald Trump’s nominee to be undersecretary for management at the State Department. The Portland, Oregon, native is awaiting a vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He stepped down to a senior adviser role on the Budget panel last month.

Bipartisan Efforts Behind Coal Miner Pension Push
Manchin and Capito lead Senate effort, as miners return to Capitol Hill

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III, center, United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts, center left, and coal miners arrive for a Tuesday press conference on the introduction of legislation to protect miner pension benefits. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The coal miners are back.

Last fall, you couldn’t walk through the Capitol’s hallways without running into mine workers wearing camouflage T-shirts.

Updated: Senate Budget Would Ease Path for $1.5 Trillion Tax Cut
Enzi plans a markup in committee next week

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Michael B. Enzi is planning to mark up the draft fiscal 2018 budget resolution next week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate Budget Committee on Friday released its version of the fiscal 2018 budget resolution that, once adopted by Congress, will allow Republicans to advance a tax bill through the reconciliation process.

The 89-page draft resolution would allow the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees to increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion during the next decade in order to advance a tax overhaul bill, and sends instructions to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and House Natural Resources Committees to reduce the deficit by $1 billion during the 10-year budget window, seen as a vehicle potentially to open up a portion of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration. The House and Senate committees are supposed to turn in their recommendations to the Budget committees by Nov. 13.

After Deal, Debt Limit Talk Still Permeates Debates
McConnell dismisses calls to eliminate borrowing ceiling

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer sparred with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday on how to frame the debt limit deal Congress passed last week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Policymakers are still talking about last week’s surprise deal to fund the government and suspend the debt limit, and they might be talking about it for a while.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has thrown cold water on the idea of abolishing the debt ceiling.

Budget and Appropriations Members Rack Up Travel Time
Boots on the ground or paid vacation?

Staff travel makes up a significant chuck of the amounts spent on travel by the Appropriations and Budget committees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of the Budget and Appropriations committees have spent about $2 million on foreign travel since the start of 2016, including trips to Argentina, Tanzania, Italy and the United Kingdom, according to an analysis of congressional records.

Appropriations Committee members far outpace their colleagues on the Budget Committee in the number of trips and how much they've spent on travel outside the United States. From Jan. 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017, Appropriations Committee members and staff spent $1.9 million on foreign travel and Budget Committee members and staff spent $36,000.