The Mike Drop - Sen. Crapo's Update from Washington

Senator Mike Crapo
2018-01-19 16:00:18
United States Senator Mike Crapo - Idaho id="content_main"> [image = crapo.enews.senate.gov//images/user_images/mike_drop2-background_1.jpg] id="content_main"> *DROPPING IN THIS ISSUE...** -- 2017 congressional year in review -- Reform of the Tax Code -- Legislation Benefitting Veterans, Repeal of the Obamacare Individual Mandate -- Confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice -- Banking Committee Active on Sanctions, Regulatory Relief -- Rolling Back Excessive Regulation -- Constituent Service Highlights id="content_main"> **2017 CONGRESSIONAL YEAR IN REVIEW** Fellow Idahoan: With Congress back in session, I want to take a brief moment to update you on some of the legislative accomplishments from 2017 that you may have missed. **REFORM OF THE TAX CODE** First, and perhaps the most noteworthy, tax reform was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed by the President on December 21, will generate higher wages, greater job opportunities and a more vibrant economy for all Idahoans. We are already seeing the results of that law as companies that operate and are based in Idaho announce bonuses and wage increases. Melaleuca [link 1]*, based in Idaho Falls, announced it would give employees bonuses based on how many years they have worked with the company. Other companies that employ Idahoans, including Zions Bank [link 2], Wells Fargo [link 3], U.S. Bank [link 4],* and AT&T [link 5]*, have also announced they would award bonuses to employees and raise wages. U.S. Bank, for example, announced it would raise its minimum wage for hourly employees to $15 per hour. These, and *numerous other announcements from coast to coast* [link 6], are significant achievements made possible through the tax reform legislation passed by Congress. Idahoans in every income group will see a reduction in their tax burdens, with the largest percentage reductions benefiting those in lower and middle-income tax categories. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes other significant reforms. Here are a few highlights: - Lowers individual tax rates to 10, 12, 22, 24, 32, 35 and 37 percent; - Increases the Standard Deduction--from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals and $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly; - Establishes a new Family Credit--which includes expanding the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000 for each child and providing new credits of $500 each for other dependents; - Preserves the Adoption Tax Credit; the deduction for charitable contributions; the home mortgage interest deduction for existing mortgages and maintains the home mortgage interest deduction for newly purchased homes for interest on up to $750,000 of mortgage principal; - Continues to allow people to write off the cost of state and local taxes up to $10,000 for both property and income (or sales) taxes; - Increases thresholds for the Alternative Minimum Tax are increased to $1 million for married couples and $500,000 for individuals; - Eliminates the Obamacare individual mandate penalty beginning January 1, 2019; - Provides immediate relief from the Estate Tax by doubling the exemption amount; and - Provides support for graduate students by continuing to reduce the value of reduced tuition from taxes. This law is already strengthening our economic competitiveness as shown by the announcements made by these companies. Those listed here are but a small sampling of the hundreds of decisions that have been made across the nation. As a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, I am proud to have joined my committee colleagues in advancing this bill through the Senate and into law. **LEGISLATION BENEFITTING VETERANS, REPEALING OBAMACARE'S INDIVIDUAL MANDATE** In addition to tax reform, Congress made other significant legislative accomplishments this past year in 2017. With Idaho's dual waiver initiative in mind, I collaborated with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, on a proposal to modify the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's section 1332 state innovation waivers. This measure would provide Idaho with the flexibility to tailor a health care system that meets the needs of Idahoans. Further, as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress repealed Obamacare's individual mandate, which required individuals to buy health insurance or face a penalty fee. This was a core piece of Obamacare and its repeal will save lower-and middle-income-class Idahoans from being forced to purchase a product they do not want. This is a significant step as Congress works toward fully rolling-back Obamacare and the numerous tax hikes contained within the law. Working with Representative Raul Labrador, Senator Risch and I introduced the Senate version of the Shauna Hill Post-9/11 Education Benefits Transferability Act, S. 410. The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed the legislation as part of the S. 1598, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 [link 7]. It gives veterans greater flexibility to transfer their education benefits to a dependent. The legislation is named for Idahoan Shauna Hill, a 16-year-old junior at Eagle High School who was killed in an automobile accident in 2012. Her father, Captain Edward Hill, then sought to reassign his education benefits to his younger daughter, Haley. However, until this recent change in the law, statute prevented a veteran from transferring education benefits after retirement. Now, this unnecessarily rigid restriction has been removed allowing veterans to reassign benefits in the event the original recipient dies, even after the service member retires. **CONFIRMING A SUPREME COURT JUSTICE AND CONSERVATIVE JUDGES COMMITTED TO THE CONSTITUTION** In March, the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which I am a member, held four days confirmation hearings on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court. The Senate confirmed Gorsuch in April as the newest justice on the court. [image = crapo.enews.senate.gov//images/user_images/Gorsuch.JPG] *Senator Crapo met with Judge Gorsuch before his confirmation hearing in February 2017.* * [image = crapo.enews.senate.gov//images/user_images/Gorsuch2.JPG]* *The view from Sen. Crapo's seat at Justice Gorsuch's swearing in ceremony hosted by the White House on April 10, 2017. Justice Gorsuch was sworn by Justice Anthony Kennedy.* In addition to confirming Justice Gorsuch, the Senate unanimously confirmed Pocatello Judge David C. Nye to serve as United States District Judge for the District of Idaho. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I worked, along with Senator Risch to advance Judge Nye's nomination through the original White House nomination, the hearing process, and to confirmation. [image = crapo.enews.senate.gov//images/user_images/Nye.JPG] *Sens. Crapo and Risch visit with Pocatello Judge David Nye prior to his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill. * In addition to Judge Nye, the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court along with 12 circuit court judges -- the most in a president's first year of office since the circuit courts were created in 1891. These conservative judges will be servants of the law, looking first and foremost to the Constitution for guidance in their rulings, rather than making policy from the bench. **BANKING COMMITTEE ACTIVE ON SANCTIONS, NOMINATIONS, AND REGULATORY RELIEF** In addition to my work as a member of the Senate Budget, Finance, Indian Affairs and Judiciary committees, I serve as the Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. Serving as Senate Banking Committee Chairman over the past year has been an honor and responsibility as the Committee has worked to manage legislation that affects so many Americans. Despite the current political climate, my priority has been to find agreement on common-sense reforms. One significant achievement has been to reach bipartisanship on the committee, avoiding many partisan battles that plague so much of Congress. In December, the Banking Committee approved the *"Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act," S. 2155 [link 8]*. This bill will right-size regulation for the community banks and credit unions across the country who have struggled to keep up with the ever-increasing regulatory compliance and examiner demands coming out of Washington. This package of commonsense, measured proposals is the result of a years-long process and careful vetting, and its passage will help to foster economic growth in rural communities throughout the country. The bill currently has 12 Republican and 12 Democrat co-sponsors, and I expect that it will be taken up by the full Senate soon. The Banking Committee also has jurisdiction over economic sanctions, and passed important sanctions legislation on *Russia [link 9] *and *North Korea* [link 10] last year. In total last year, the Committee held 43 hearings, including oversight hearings of Wells Fargo and Equifax, and advanced 23 of President Trump's nominees out of Committee. Among those nominees were Dr. Ben Carson to serve as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Jerome Powell as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Jay Clayton as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. [image = crapo.enews.senate.gov//images/user_images/Powell.jpg] *Senator Crapo meets with Jay Powell, who has been nominated to Chair the Federal Reserve. His nomination is awaiting Senate confirmation.* * [image = crapo.enews.senate.gov//images/user_images/Carson_1.JPG]* *Senator Crapo meets with Dr. Ben Carson before his hearing to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services. Secretary Carson was confirmed by the Senate on March 2, 2017.* All told, 2017 was a busy but productive year for the Senate and in the Banking Committee. I look forward to building on this progress in 2018 as I represent you in Washington. **ROLLING BACK EXCESSIVE REGULATIONS** I have long held that the amount of excessive, costly government regulation has held our economy back from reaching its full potential. Early in his Administration, President Trump signed an Executive Order that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated in order to control costs. In 2017, the President has signed 70 pieces of legislation passed by Congress aimed specifically at overturning many of the costly rules and regulations imposed during President Obama's Administration. The result of this aggressive action by the President and Congress has been the delay or cancellation of more than 1,500 planned regulatory actions, and, according to the White House and its analysis, it reached a milestone that for every one new regulation, 22 old regulations were eliminated [link 11]. While the White House had aimed for "two-for-one," in 2017, it actually achieved "twenty-two for one." Rolling back excessive regulation is essential for our economy to grow and be competitive globally. Reducing burdensome, redundant and expensive regulation is a critical step for the health of our economy. **CONSTITUENT SERVICE HIGHLIGHTS** As your Senator, one of my responsibilities is to *assist you, members of your family and neighbors with challenges they may have when working with federal agencies* [link 12]. Often, these challenges may include receiving unpaid or delayed veterans benefits, expediting an application for a Passport in case of an emergency, and other types of requests commonly referred to as "casework." This past year, was a busy year working with hundreds of Idahoans on casework issues. In 2017, staff from my office made more than 800 inquiries of various federal agencies on behalf of Idahoans. At the end of 2017, these inquiries have resulted in more than $3,280,990 of lump sum benefits being recorded and returned to Idahoans. Of that amount, $2,246,103, or 68 percent of those benefits have been related to an inquiry with a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs entity or the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, which handles military pay issues, including retirement and combat-related special related compensation. Additionally in 2017, more than 1,400 Idahoans visiting Washington, D.C., who reached out for tour advice and assistance were helped with scheduling tours during their planned visits to the nation's capital city. This included conducting staff-led tours of the U.S. Capitol, and scheduling tours of the White House, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the U.S. Supreme Court and other D.C. landmarks. If you are having an issue with a federal agency, *I encourage you to visit the constituent services page on my website [link 13]*, at www.crapo.senate.gov. In addition, if you plan to visit Washington, D.C., in the coming months and need assistance with tours, please submit your tour requests as soon as possible. Some of the most popular attractions in D.C. become even more crowded in the spring and have deadlines for submitting tour requests. The more time you can give staff, the better your opportunities are for making the most of your visit. # # #
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The Mic Drop

DROPPING IN THIS ISSUE...

-- 2017 congressional year in review

-- Reform of the Tax Code

-- Legislation Benefitting Veterans, Repeal of the Obamacare Individual Mandate

-- Confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice

-- Banking Committee Active on Sanctions, Regulatory Relief

-- Rolling Back Excessive Regulation

-- Constituent Service Highlights

2017 CONGRESSIONAL YEAR IN REVIEW

Fellow Idahoan:

With Congress back in session, I want to take a brief moment to update you on some of the legislative accomplishments from 2017 that you may have missed.

REFORM OF THE TAX CODE

First, and perhaps the most noteworthy, tax reform was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed by the President on December 21, will generate higher wages, greater job opportunities and a more vibrant economy for all Idahoans.  We are already seeing the results of that law as companies that operate and are based in Idaho announce bonuses and wage increases.  , based in Idaho Falls, announced it would give employees bonuses based on how many years they have worked with the company.  Other companies that employ Idahoans, including , , , and , have also announced they would award bonuses to employees and raise wages.  U.S. Bank, for example, announced it would raise its minimum wage for hourly employees to $15 per hour.  These, and numerous other announcements from coast to coast, are significant achievements made possible through the tax reform legislation passed by Congress.

Idahoans in every income group will see a reduction in their tax burdens, with the largest percentage reductions benefiting those in lower and middle-income tax categories.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act includes other significant reforms. Here are a few highlights:

  • Lowers individual tax rates to 10, 12, 22, 24, 32, 35 and 37 percent;
     
  • Increases the Standard Deduction—from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals and $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly;
     
  • Establishes a new Family Credit—which includes expanding the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000 for each child and providing new credits of $500 each for other dependents;
     
  • Preserves the Adoption Tax Credit; the deduction for charitable contributions; the home mortgage interest deduction for existing mortgages and maintains the home mortgage interest deduction for newly purchased homes for interest on up to $750,000 of mortgage principal;
     
  • Continues to allow people to write off the cost of state and local taxes up to $10,000 for both property and income (or sales) taxes;
     
  • Increases thresholds for the Alternative Minimum Tax are increased to $1 million for married couples and $500,000 for individuals;
     
  • Eliminates the Obamacare individual mandate penalty beginning January 1, 2019;
     
  • Provides immediate relief from the Estate Tax by doubling the exemption amount; and
     
  • Provides support for graduate students by continuing to reduce the value of reduced tuition from taxes.

This law is already strengthening our economic competitiveness as shown by the announcements made by these companies.  Those listed here are but a small sampling of the hundreds of decisions that have been made across the nation.  As a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, I am proud to have joined my committee colleagues in advancing this bill through the Senate and into law.

LEGISLATION BENEFITTING VETERANS, REPEALING OBAMACARE'S INDIVIDUAL MANDATE

In addition to tax reform, Congress made other significant legislative accomplishments this past year in 2017.  With Idaho’s dual waiver initiative in mind, I collaborated with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, on a proposal to modify the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s section 1332 state innovation waivers.  This measure would provide Idaho with the flexibility to tailor a health care system that meets the needs of Idahoans.  Further, as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress repealed Obamacare's individual mandate, which required individuals to buy health insurance or face a penalty fee.  This was a core piece of Obamacare and its repeal will save lower-and middle-income-class Idahoans from being forced to purchase a product they do not want.  This is a significant step as Congress works toward fully rolling-back Obamacare and the numerous tax hikes contained within the law.

Working with Representative Raul Labrador, Senator Risch and I introduced the Senate version of the Shauna Hill Post-9/11 Education Benefits Transferability Act, S. 410.  The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed the legislation as part of the S. 1598, the .  It gives veterans greater flexibility to transfer their education benefits to a dependent.  The legislation is named for Idahoan Shauna Hill, a 16-year-old junior at Eagle High School who was killed in an automobile accident in 2012.  Her father, Captain Edward Hill, then sought to reassign his education benefits to his younger daughter, Haley.  However, until this recent change in the law, statute prevented a veteran from transferring education benefits after retirement.  Now, this unnecessarily rigid restriction has been removed allowing veterans to reassign benefits in the event the original recipient dies, even after the service member retires. 

CONFIRMING A SUPREME COURT JUSTICE AND CONSERVATIVE JUDGES COMMITTED TO THE CONSTITUTION

In March, the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which I am a member, held four days confirmation hearings on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court.  The Senate confirmed Gorsuch in April as the newest justice on the court. 

 



Senator Crapo met with Judge Gorsuch before his confirmation hearing in February 2017.

The view from Sen. Crapo's seat at Justice Gorsuch's swearing in ceremony hosted by the White House on April 10, 2017. Justice Gorsuch was sworn by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

In addition to confirming Justice Gorsuch, the Senate unanimously confirmed Pocatello Judge David C. Nye to serve as United States District Judge for the District of Idaho.  As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I worked, along with Senator Risch to advance Judge Nye’s nomination through the original White House nomination, the hearing process, and to confirmation. 

Sens. Crapo and Risch visit with Pocatello Judge David Nye prior to his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill. 

In addition to Judge Nye, the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court along with 12 circuit court judges -- the most in a president's first year of office since the circuit courts were created in 1891.  These conservative judges will be servants of the law, looking first and foremost to the Constitution for guidance in their rulings, rather than making policy from the bench.

BANKING COMMITTEE ACTIVE ON SANCTIONS, NOMINATIONS, AND REGULATORY RELIEF

In addition to my work as a member of the Senate Budget, Finance, Indian Affairs and Judiciary committees, I serve as the Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.  Serving as Senate Banking Committee Chairman over the past year has been an honor and responsibility as the Committee has worked to manage legislation that affects so many Americans.  Despite the current political climate, my priority has been to find agreement on common-sense reforms.  One significant achievement has been to reach bipartisanship on the committee, avoiding many partisan battles that plague so much of Congress.

In December, the Banking Committee approved the .  This bill will right-size regulation for the community banks and credit unions across the country who have struggled to keep up with the ever-increasing regulatory compliance and examiner demands coming out of Washington.  This package of commonsense, measured proposals is the result of a years-long process and careful vetting, and its passage will help to foster economic growth in rural communities throughout the country.  The bill currently has 12 Republican and 12 Democrat co-sponsors, and I expect that it will be taken up by the full Senate soon.

The Banking Committee also has jurisdiction over economic sanctions, and passed important sanctions legislation on last year.

In total last year, the Committee held 43 hearings, including oversight hearings of Wells Fargo and Equifax, and advanced 23 of President Trump’s nominees out of Committee.  Among those nominees were Dr. Ben Carson to serve as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Jerome Powell as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Jay Clayton as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Senator Crapo meets with Jay Powell, who has been nominated to Chair the Federal Reserve. His nomination is awaiting Senate confirmation.

Senator Crapo meets with Dr. Ben Carson before his hearing to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services. Secretary Carson was confirmed by the Senate on March 2, 2017.

All told, 2017 was a busy but productive year for the Senate and in the Banking Committee.  I look forward to building on this progress in 2018 as I represent you in Washington.

ROLLING BACK EXCESSIVE REGULATIONS

I have long held that the amount of excessive, costly government regulation has held our economy back from reaching its full potential.  Early in his Administration, President Trump signed an Executive Order that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated in order to control costs.  In 2017, the President has signed 70 pieces of legislation passed by Congress aimed specifically at overturning many of the costly rules and regulations imposed during President Obama’s Administration.  The result of this aggressive action by the President and Congress has been the delay or cancellation of more than 1,500 planned regulatory actions, and, according to the White House and its analysis, .  While the White House had aimed for “two-for-one,” in 2017, it actually achieved “twenty-two for one.”  Rolling back excessive regulation is essential for our economy to grow and be competitive globally.  Reducing burdensome, redundant and expensive regulation is a critical step for the health of our economy.

CONSTITUENT SERVICE HIGHLIGHTS

As your Senator, one of my responsibilities is to .  Often, these challenges may include receiving unpaid or delayed veterans benefits, expediting an application for a Passport in case of an emergency, and other types of requests commonly referred to as "casework."  This past year, was a busy year working with hundreds of Idahoans on casework issues.  In 2017, staff from my office made more than 800 inquiries of various federal agencies on behalf of Idahoans.  At the end of 2017, these inquiries have resulted in more than $3,280,990 of lump sum benefits being recorded and returned to Idahoans.  Of that amount, $2,246,103, or 68 percent of those benefits have been related to an inquiry with a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs entity or the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, which handles military pay issues, including retirement and combat-related special related compensation.

Additionally in 2017, more than 1,400 Idahoans visiting Washington, D.C., who reached out for tour advice and assistance were helped with scheduling tours during their planned visits to the nation’s capital city.  This included conducting staff-led tours of the U.S. Capitol, and scheduling tours of the White House, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the U.S. Supreme Court and other D.C. landmarks.

If you are having an issue with a federal agency, , at www.crapo.senate.gov.  In addition, if you plan to visit Washington, D.C., in the coming months and need assistance with tours, please submit your tour requests as soon as possible.  Some of the most popular attractions in D.C. become even more crowded in the spring and have deadlines for submitting tour requests.  The more time you can give staff, the better your opportunities are for making the most of your visit.

# # #

OFFICE LOCATIONS:

Washington, DC Office
239 Dirksen Senate Office Building | Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-6142 | Fax: (202) 228-1375

Boise Office
251 E. Front St., Suite 205,
Boise ID, 83702
Phone: (208) 334-1776 |
Fax: (208) 334-9044
Coeur d'Alene Office
610 Hubbard, Suite 209,
Coeur d' Alene, ID 83814
Phone: (208) 664-5490 |
Fax: (208) 664-0889
Idaho Falls Office
410 Memorial Dr., Suite 204,
Idaho Falls, ID 83402
Phone: (208) 522-9779 |
Fax: (208) 529-8367
Lewiston Office
313 'D' St., Suite 105,
Lewiston, ID 83501
Phone: (208) 743-1492 |
Fax: (208) 743-6484
Pocatello Office
275 S. 5th Ave., Suite 100, Pocatello, ID 83201
Phone: (208) 236-6775 | Fax: (208) 236-6935
Twin Falls Office
202 Falls Ave., Suite 2, Twin Falls, ID 83301
Phone: (208) 734-2515 | Fax: (208) 733-0414

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