The Laudable Pursuit: Real Progress Towards Tax Relief for American Families

Senator Mike Lee
2017-10-20 12:15:43
October 20, 2017 "to elevate the condition of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life." --Abraham Lincoln Chairman's Note: Real Progress Towards Tax Relief for American Families It's not every day that good news comes out of Congress, but last night the United States Senate made firm progress on tax reform that included a strong bipartisan message that the final legislation must include real tax relief for working families. Make no mistake: Any tax reform legislation that is produced this year will do so largely along partisan lines. That is why the Senate's passage of a budget resolution last night was so important for tax reform. It checked the first box in the budget reconciliation process created by the 1974 Congressional Budget Act that allows the Senate to pass certain budget-related legislation by a simple majority vote. Now the House must either pass the same budget the Senate did last night, or go to conference to reconcile the differences between the Senate budget and the House budget that passed earlier this month. However, all signs point to the House just voting on the Senate budget as is. After the House passes the Senate budget, it will again be the House's turn to initiate by introducing actual tax reform legislation. We got a glimpse of what that legislation will look like last month when the White House released its nine-page tax reform outline. As we mentioned in September, that outline was a good start, but it also left one key policy area unclear: the size of an expected child tax credit expansion. This is potentially a huge problem for tax reform since the most recent draft would eliminate the personal exemption, a tax provision that benefits many working families. According to analyses of the current tax outline, millions of working families could be facing a tax hike, not a tax cut. That is not what President Trump or the Republican Party promised their voters. Luckily, there is a simple fix to this problem, it is popular across party lines, and it received a unanimous vote of confidence in the Senate last night. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and I introduced an amendment to last night's budget resolution that created a "deficit neutral reserve fund" for future legislation that would increase per-child tax relief by amending the existing child tax credit. In practical terms, this only made it slightly easier for an expanded child tax credit to become law. However, the unanimous bipartisan nature of the vote sent a strong signal to the House and White House that a robust child tax credit is central to getting tax reform done. Better yet, the child tax credit may be just the right policy to convince one or two red-state Democrats to vote with Republicans for tax relief. Fixing the Parent Tax Penalty Click here to watch video Issue in Focus: Senate Blue Slips More than 140 federal judgeships are currently unoccupied, a record high number. President Trump has nominated almost 60 candidates to fill those slots but so far only seven have been confirmed. There are many reasons why the Senate has not been able to confirm more of President Trump's nominees, but a major obstacle has been Democrat abuse of a Senate Judiciary Committee practice more commonly known as the "blue slip." When a candidate is nominated to a federal judicial vacancy, the two senators from the states of that vacancy are given blue slips of paper by the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman soliciting the senators' opinion of the nominee in question. The written opinions of the home-state senators are then taken into consideration when the Judiciary Committee considers the nomination. But sometimes senators choose not to return the blue slip at all, thus delaying and sometimes even blocking a nomination entirely. Senate Democrats are currently refusing to return blue slips on a number of President Trump nominees and when the possibility of proceeding to committee consideration without the blue slips has been raised, these same Democrats have claimed Republicans are trying to destroy one of the Senate's most sacred traditions. Nothing could be further from the truth. The blue slip was invented in 1917-128 years after the First Congress convened. It was never treated as a veto until 1955, when Senator James Eastland became Chairman of this Committee. Eastland was an ardent segregationist and, by turning the blue slip into a veto, he was trying to block the implementation of Brown v. Board of Education. Eastland's successor, Senator Ted Kennedy, immediately changed the status of the blue slip when he became chairman. To make a long story short, since 1955, there have been eight chairmen of the Committee, including Eastland. By my count, two have treated the blue slip as a veto. The remaining six either said the blue slip was not a veto or did not treat the blue slip as if it were a veto. So the practice, even since 1955, is mixed. And of course those first 128 years of the Republic also count. The blue slip has taken on added importance because, in 2013, the Democrats eliminated the filibuster from the executive calendar. We should be cognizant that when we change the rules-the actual, written protections we can rely on-we are left reliant on customs. Customs can always be changed, especially when they are not particularly strong customs. That's something I hope we all consider as we move forward and determine how to process pending nominees. Washington, D.C. Office 361A Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C., 20510 Phone: 202.224.5444 Fax: 202.228.1168 Salt Lake City Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building 125 South State, Suite 4225 Salt Lake City, UT 84138 Phone: 801.524.5933 Fax: 801.524.5730 St. George Office of Senator Michael S. Lee 285 West Tabernacle, Suite 200 St. George, UT 84770 Phone: 435.628.5514 SaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSaveSave Save Save Save Save Save Save SaveSave SaveSaveSave SaveSave Save This message was intended for: xxx You were added to the system October 2, 2015. For more information please follow the URL below: newsletter.senate.gov/p/iWn-ov8oNy Follow the URL below to update your preferences or opt-out: newsletter.senate.gov/p/oWn-ov8oNy To unsubscribe from future mailings, send an email to mailto:xxx?Subject=Unsubscribe&body=Please%20remove%20me%20from%20further%20mailings with "Unsubscribe" as the subject line.
October 20, 2017

"to elevate the condition of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life." --Abraham Lincoln

Chairman's Note: Real Progress Towards Tax Relief for American Families

It’s not every day that good news comes out of Congress, but last night the United States Senate made firm progress on tax reform that included a strong bipartisan message that the final legislation must include real tax relief for working families.

Make no mistake: Any tax reform legislation that is produced this year will do so largely along partisan lines. That is why the Senate’s passage of a budget resolution last night was so important for tax reform. It checked the first box in the budget reconciliation process created by the 1974 Congressional Budget Act that allows the Senate to pass certain budget-related legislation by a simple majority vote.

Now the House must either pass the same budget the Senate did last night, or go to conference to reconcile the differences between the Senate budget and the House budget that passed earlier this month. However, all signs point to the House just voting on the Senate budget as is.

After the House passes the Senate budget, it will again be the House’s turn to initiate by introducing actual tax reform legislation. We got a glimpse of what that legislation will look like last month when the White House released its nine-page tax reform outline.

As we mentioned in September, that outline was a good start, but it also left one key policy area unclear: the size of an expected child tax credit expansion.

This is potentially a huge problem for tax reform since the most recent draft would eliminate the personal exemption, a tax provision that benefits many working families. According to analyses of the current tax outline, millions of working families could be facing a tax hike, not a tax cut.

That is not what President Trump or the Republican Party promised their voters.

Luckily, there is a simple fix to this problem, it is popular across party lines, and it received a unanimous vote of confidence in the Senate last night.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and I introduced an amendment to last night’s budget resolution that created a “deficit neutral reserve fund” for future legislation that would increase per-child tax relief by amending the existing child tax credit.

In practical terms, this only made it slightly easier for an expanded child tax credit to become law. However, the unanimous bipartisan nature of the vote sent a strong signal to the House and White House that a robust child tax credit is central to getting tax reform done. Better yet, the child tax credit may be just the right policy to convince one or two red-state Democrats to vote with Republicans for tax relief.

Fixing"the Parent Tax Penalty

Click here to watch video

Issue in Focus: Senate Blue Slips

More than 140 federal judgeships are currently unoccupied, a record high number. President Trump has nominated almost 60 candidates to fill those slots but so far only seven have been confirmed.
 
There are many reasons why the Senate has not been able to confirm more of President Trump’s nominees, but a major obstacle has been Democrat abuse of a Senate Judiciary Committee practice more commonly known as the “blue slip.”
 
When a candidate is nominated to a federal judicial vacancy, the two senators from the states of that vacancy are given blue slips of paper by the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman soliciting the senators’ opinion of the nominee in question.
 
The written opinions of the home-state senators are then taken into consideration when the Judiciary Committee considers the nomination. But sometimes senators choose not to return the blue slip at all, thus delaying and sometimes even blocking a nomination entirely.
 
Senate Democrats are currently refusing to return blue slips on a number of President Trump nominees and when the possibility of proceeding to committee consideration without the blue slips has been raised, these same Democrats have claimed Republicans are trying to destroy one of the Senate’s most sacred traditions.
 
Nothing could be further from the truth.
 
The blue slip was invented in 1917—128 years after the First Congress convened. It was never treated as a veto until 1955, when Senator James Eastland became Chairman of this Committee. Eastland was an ardent segregationist and, by turning the blue slip into a veto, he was trying to block the implementation of Brown v. Board of Education.
 
Eastland’s successor, Senator Ted Kennedy, immediately changed the status of the blue slip when he became chairman. To make a long story short, since 1955, there have been eight chairmen of the Committee, including Eastland. By my count, two have treated the blue slip as a veto. The remaining six either said the blue slip was not a veto or did not treat the blue slip as if it were a veto. So the practice, even since 1955, is mixed. And of course those first 128 years of the Republic also count.
 
The blue slip has taken on added importance because, in 2013, the Democrats eliminated the filibuster from the executive calendar. We should be cognizant that when we change the rules—the actual, written protections we can rely on—we are left reliant on customs. Customs can always be changed, especially when they are not particularly strong customs.
 
That’s something I hope we all consider as we move forward and determine how to process pending nominees.


Washington, D.C. Office
361A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C., 20510
Phone: 202.224.5444
Fax: 202.228.1168

Salt Lake City
Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building
125 South State, Suite 4225
Salt Lake City, UT 84138
Phone: 801.524.5933
Fax: 801.524.5730

St. George
Office of Senator Michael S. Lee
285 West Tabernacle, Suite 200
St. George, UT 84770
Phone: 435.628.5514




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