This Week in Congress

The Senate will consider S. 140, which exempts Native American businesses from the National Labor Relations Act. This frees these business from complying with federal mandates and recognizes the sovereignty of tribal governments.

The Senate will also consider S.H. Res. 57, which overturns a federal regulation dealing with Auto lending and the equal credit act. This rule holds auto leaders accountable for discriminatory actions done by auto dealers even though the financier had nothing to do with the discriminatory conduct.

The Senate may also take up the Coast Guard Reauthorization bill.

Before going on to the House for this week here’s a wrap-up of last week and a look ahead:

Here is the roll-call vote on the Balanced Budget Act for last week. Two-Hundred and twenty-six Republicans voted  for this bill, while only five (Justin Amash (MI-03), Andy Biggs(AZ-05), Carlos Cunelli (FL-06), Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Paul Godard (AZ-04),and Thomas Massie (KY-04) voted against it. All six of them voted against the big spending Omnibus spending bill, which means that the majority of the Republican party votes to  increase spending then voted to amend the Constitution to stop them from spending.

Of course, the amendment has many loopholes such as allowing it to be waived “for any fiscal year in which the United States is engaged in military conflict which causes an imminent and serious military threat to national security and is so declared by a joint resolution, adopted by a majority of the whole number of each House, which becomes law." But according to the war party- which has a bipartisan majority in Congress— America always faces imminent and serious threats. So even if this amendment passed it will do little or nothing to stop spending.

Last week the House Agriculture Committee unveiled it’s new fame bill. The bill is expected to increase spending by $3.3  billion over the next five years but reduce spending by $2.7 billion from 2024-2028 — assuming Congress does not increase spending. The bill imposed new restrictions on food stamp recipients such as work requirements and makes other changes to the program designed to save money. It does not make any changes to the programs providing taxpayer subsidies to millionaire part-time farmers even though these subsides distort the market, increase consumer prices, harm the environment, and damage farmers that don’t revive subdues. More details on this bill will be forthcoming.

The House is not expected to debate President Trump’s bombing Syria, even though it was done without congressional authorization. However, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to soon begin working on a new Authorization of Military Force. New details about this will be available here.

This week the House will consider H.R. 5192, which directs the Social Security Commissioner to provide anti fraud data to those who request them to help stop identity fraud.

Since this is Tax Week the House will be considering two bills related to taxation. The first, H.R. 5442 does the following:

This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to modify the organizational structure, enforcement procedures, and services of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The bill establishes within the IRS the Independent Office of Appeals to resolve tax controversies and review administrative decisions.

With respect to the services provided to taxpayers, the bill requires the IRS to:

  • submit to Congress a customer service strategy,

  • continue to operate the IRS Free File Program, and

  • exempt certain low-income taxpayers from payments required to submit an offer-in-compromise.

The bill revises enforcement procedures relating to:

  • the seizure of property that has been structured to avoid Bank Secrecy Act reporting requirements,

  • equitable relief from joint liability,

  • the issuance of a summons,

  • referrals for private debt collection,

  • contacting third parties, and

  • providing access to return and return information to individuals who are not IRS employees.

The bill addresses the organizational structure of the IRS by:

  • modifying the titles of several IRS officials,

  • establishing requirements for responding to Taxpayer Advocate Directives and providing statistical support to the National Taxpayer Advocate,

  • eliminating the IRS Oversight Board, and

  • requiring the IRS to submit a reorganization plan to Congress.

The bill also makes Tax Court judges subject to the same grounds for disqualification as other federal judges.

The changes to procedures relating to property seizures are requiring the IRS to only seize property in “structuring” cases, where someone arranged ones finances to avoid paying taxes, that are related to the crime.

The second bill, H.R. 5445 improves the IRS's cyber security efforts to protect the identity of taxpayers.

The House will also consider a number of bills under suspension of the rules including:

  1. H.R. 3607– Authorizes  the park service to collect fees for medical services provided in the parks.

  1. H.R. 2995– Directs the Justice Department to establish an expedited process to help the cases of hit and run theft where the  thief posed as an IRS agent.

  1. H.R. 4403– Requires Customs to remove social security numbers and other information from packages being shipped into the United States to prevent identity theft. Good idea but why isn’t this already law?

  1. H.R. 5446– Forbids the IRS from immediately selling seized property unless the property is a perishable good.

  1. H.R. 5438– Allows IRS employees to provide taxpayers information about low-income taxpayer clinics.

  1. H.R. 5436– Directs the Secretary of the Treasury to provide individuals who request it a number that can serve as an alternative identifier to the social security number.

  1. H.R. 5439– Provides  for a single point of contact at the IRS for identity theft victims.

  1. H.R. 5443 – Requires tax-exempt organizations to file their returns electronically and make them public, which is a good reason why Campaign for Liberty refuses to reveal any information about its supporters to the IRS.

  2. H.R. 2801– Authorizes $30 million to provide matching grants for low-income assistance programs. Better idea would be to take low-income, and high-income, and all income taxpayers off the tax rolls.

  1. H.R. 1512– Requires the  Social Security Administration to give an individual under 14 a new number if the previous number was revealed when the agency was transmitting the number to the child. Sounds good but again why wasn’t this already law?

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