Opinion

Eyes on Washington: How the Texas congressional delegation voted

How the Texas congressional delegation voted on major issues last week: Senate:

Republican Tax Overhaul

Passed: 51-49

The Senate voted on a Republican-drafted bill (HR 1) that would permanently reduce the corporate tax rate, temporarily reduce personal income tax rates, end deductions for state and local income taxes, scale back the federal estate tax, open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, repeal the 2010 health law’s individual mandate and make numerous other changes to the tax code and domestic programs.

The bill would reduce business and personal taxes by about $1.4 trillion through fiscal 2027. The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the bill would add $1 trillion to the national debt after increased borrowing costs and new revenue resulting from economic growth are taken into effect. Federal debt now stands at $20.6 trillion.

Because the bill would increase deficits, it triggers a pay-as-you-go rule requiring revenue losses from tax changes to be offset elsewhere in the budget. That likely means cuts over 10 years in entitlement programs including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, according to the Congressional Budget Office. A one-year, $25 billion Medicare spending cut is factored into the bill.

For businesses, the bill would permanently reduce the top tax rate on corporate earnings from 35 percent to 20 percent, lower the rate for passively managed pass-through entities such as S Corporations and partnerships from 39.6 percent to 25 percent and give multinationals a onetime opportunity to bring cash home from overseas tax havens at a 14.5 percent rate.

The bill would lower personal income tax rates, but most of the changes in individual taxes would expire after seven or eight years. Most households earning less than $75,000 would face higher tax bills starting in 2027 than they do under current law, according to the joint tax panel.

The bill would eliminate the $4,050 personal exemption, end itemized deductions for state and local income taxes and allow up to $10,000 in deductions for property taxes. The standard deduction would be permanently doubled to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for joint filers, while the child tax credit would be increased from $1,000 to $2,000. A 1.4 percent tax would be imposed on the earnings of college and university endowments above certain levels. Estate-tax exemptions would be doubled to $11 million for individuals and $22 million for couples, enabling all but 1,800 Americans to receive an inheritance free of federal taxation.

By requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, the individual mandate helps spread healthcare costs throughout the population. Its repeal is projected to add 13 million individuals to uninsured rolls and trigger 10 percent increases in health insurance premiums. The mandate is regarded as one of three pillars necessary to keep the Affordable Care Act from collapsing, along with its ban on coverage denials based on pre-existing conditions and premium subsidies enabling low-income households to afford insurance.

In a statement on abortion, the bill allows parents to name fetuses as beneficiaries of Section 529 college savings plans. Under Roe v. Wade, a fetus usually does not reach viability, or personhood, until 24-to-28 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill replaces the Consumer Price Index as a measurement for adjusting tax brackets for inflation, instead using the less generous “chained CPI” for protecting earners against the bracket creep that results when incomes rise because of inflation.

A yes vote was to send the bill to a House-Senate conference committee.

Yes: Cornyn, Cruz

 

Hiring Linked to Corporate Tax Savings

Failed: 48-52

The Senate rejected a Democratic-sponsored amendment to require corporations to use a significant share of their tax savings from a pending tax-overhaul bill (HR 1) to expand payrolls. The Democratic-sponsored measure sought to require firms to spend as much of their tax savings on hiring new workers as they do on raising executive pay, buying back stock and increasing dividend payments to shareholders.

A yes vote was to establish a link between hiring policies and corporate tax savings.

No: Cornyn, Cruz

 

Tax Credits Linked to Pro-Worker Policies

Failed: 48-51

The Senate rejected a Democratic-sponsored measure that sought to provide tax credits of $1,500 per worker to U.S. corporations that pay wages of at least $15 an hour, provide substantive health and retirement benefits and keep their headquarters in the United States.

A yes vote was to advance the amendment to HR 1 (above).

No: Cornyn, Cruz

 

Permanent Middle-Class Tax Cuts

Failed: 54-52

The Senate rejected a Democratic measure that sought to make middle- and lower-class income tax cuts in HR 1 (above) permanent just as the bill’s corporate tax cuts are permanent. Without this change, the bill’s personal reductions would expire after seven or eight years. To keep the change from adding to deficits, the amendment would scale back the bill’s cuts in taxes on corporate earnings by an equivalent sum.

A yes vote was to give permanency to the bill’s middle- and lower-class income tax cuts.

No: Cornyn, Cruz

 

Gregory Katsas, Appeals Judge

Confirmed: 50-48

The Senate confirmed Gregory G. Katsas, 53, a former deputy counsel to President Trump, for a seat on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The 11-judge panel is regarded as the most powerful court below the Supreme Court because it has direct authority over the actions of federal agencies including rulemakings. Katsas drew Democratic criticism over his helping to draft White House’s policies on LGBT rights and travel to the United States from certain Muslim-majority countries.

A yes vote was to confirm Katsas.

Yes: Cornyn, Cruz

House:

Disclosure of President Trump’s Tax Returns

Passed: 227-189

The House voted to block a parliamentary attempt by Democrats to force floor debate on a bill (HR 305) now in committee that would require President Trump and future presidential nominees to disclose their federal tax returns for the three preceding years. Democrats timed this vote to coincide with congressional action on GOP tax-overhaul bills.

A yes vote opposed floor consideration of the tax-disclosure bill.

Yes: Barton, Granger, Marchant, Williams, Burgess

No: Veasey

 

Copper Mining in National Forest

Passed: 216-204

The House voted on a bill (HR 3905) that would require the Bureau of Land Management to renew two leases for mining rights beneath the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota, which surrounds the 1.1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. At the close of the Obama administration, the BLM announced it would discontinue the leases in order to protect natural resources, tribal rights and tourism in the area. The lease holder, Chilean-owned Twin Metals Minnesota, is seeking to develop an underground copper mine and processing plant on the land. The company has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the BLM decision.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Yes: Barton, Granger, Marchant, Williams, Burgess

No: Veasey

 

Job Probation for Civil Servants

Passed: 213-204

The Senate voted on a bill (HR 4182) that would double from one to two years the probationary period for newly hired employees in the federal civil service. The bill would also increase from one to two years the time new federal workers must serve to qualify for full due-process rights when being disciplined. The bill imposes similar restrictions on the Senior Executive Service, which is a management corps ranking above the civil service and below political appointees.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Yes: Barton, Granger, Marchant, Williams, Burgess

No: Veasey

Your U.S. lawmakers

Senators

John Cornyn, R

517 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510

5001 Spring Valley Road, Suite 1125E, Dallas, TX 75244

202-224-2934; 972-239-1310

www.cornyn.senate.gov

Twitter @JohnCornyn

 

Ted Cruz, R

Russell Senate Office Building, Suite 404, Washington, D.C. 20510

3626 N. Hall St., Suite 410, Dallas, TX 75219

202-224-5922; 214-599-8749

www.cruz.senate.gov

Twitter @SenTedCruz

 

Representatives

 

Joe Barton, R-Ennis

2107 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515

6001 W. Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway, Suite 200, Arlington, TX 76017

202-225-2002; 817-543-1000

www.joebarton.house.gov

Twitter @RepJoeBarton

 

Michael Burgess, R-Pilot Point

2336 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515

2000 S. Stemmons Fwy., Suite 200, Lake Dallas, TX 75065

202-225-7772; 940- 497-5031

www.burgess.house.gov

Twitter @michaelcburgess

 

Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth

1026 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515

1701 River Run Road, Suite 407, Fort Worth, TX 76107

202-225-5071; 817-338-0909

www.kaygranger.house.gov

Twitter @RepKayGranger

 

Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell

1110 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515

9901 E. Valley Ranch Parkway, Suite 3035, Irving, TX 75063

202-225-6605; 972-556-0162

www.marchant.house.gov

Twitter @RepKenMarchant

 

Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth

1519 Longworth House Office Building,Washington, DC 20515

6707 Brentwood Stair Rd., Suite 200, Fort Worth, TX 76112

202-225-9897; 817-920-9086

www.veasey.house.gov

Twitter @RepVeasey

Roger Williams, R-Austin

1323 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515;

1005 Congress Ave., Suite 925, Austin, TX 78701

202-225-9896; 512-473-8910

www.williams.house.gov

Twitter @RepRWilliams

Courtesy of Voterama in Congress

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