BCA's Washington Briefing

follow us on facebook   follow us on twitter   follow us on youtubeDecember 6, 2013




The Hill reported Thursday that congressional tax writers are telling the business community that important tax breaks won't be renewed by Dec. 31. Instead of renewal, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., want to deal with the so-called extenders package in comprehensive tax reform. Barring a reduction in the tax rate, losing tax breaks would cost businesses and, ultimately consumers of their services or products, billions of dollars.


The Joint Committee on Taxation says that 55 temporary tax provisions are set to die at the end of the year. "The point that the chairman has made consistently is, any time we do extenders, it takes the pressure off comprehensive tax reform, and it takes away from the debate of comprehensive tax reform," said Rep. Patrick Tiberi, R-Ohio, chairman a tax-related Ways and Means subcommittee. Their schedule for reform has already slipped, with Camp saying that he will not release a tax reform bill in 2013.


The effort to reauthorize dozens of breaks that deal with everything from wind energy to research and development to electric vehicles faces an uncertain future, The Hill reported. They include incentives for investing in communities in need and for using mass transit, Puerto Rican rum producers, NASCAR tracks, the film industry, research investments, and bio-diesel and renewable fuel.

Expiration of the tax breaks is no surprise to the business community, which has become accustomed to Congress extending them retroactively - most recently in the January "fiscal-cliff" deal, The Hill said. Business groups say the tax breaks provide critical support to a variety of industries and argue Congress's stop-and-go approach makes it harder for companies to plan.


Roby Accepts Position on House Committee on Appropriations 

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (12/5) "U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) today accepted an assignment to the House Committee on Appropriations, a development Rep. Roby called a challenging responsibility, but a unique opportunity on behalf of Alabama's Second Congressional District.


"'I am honored to accept a position on the House Committee on Appropriations, and I appreciate the confidence my colleagues have placed in me by selecting me to serve in this capacity', Rep. Roby said. 'Appropriations has oversight on the whole range of government spending. This new role provides a unique opportunity to push for the kind of conservative spending priorities that will put us on a sustainable financial path for future generations'.


"Rep. Roby's assignment became official after it was approved by the House Republican Steering Committee on Wednesday. Two other Members of Congress - Reps. Mark Amodei (R-NV) and Chris Stewart (R-UT) - also received assignments to the committee. The vacancies were created by the resignations of Reps. Jo Bonner (R-AL) and Rodney Alexander (R-LA), and the death of Rep. Bill Young (R-FL).


"With this move, Rep. Roby will no longer serve on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Agriculture Committee, or the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Rep. Roby said, however, that she remains committed to supporting the district's unique military, agriculture, and educational interests. 'Congress is working in a budget-constrained environment for the foreseeable future, and we must make sure every dollar spent is spent wisely', she said. 'After numerous discussions with senior colleagues in Congress and stakeholders in my state, I'm convinced having a seat on the Appropriations Committee will afford me more - not less - influence on issues that matter to the people of Alabama's Second District'."

Manufacturers score legal win in National Labor Relations Board case  

National Association of Manufacturers (Lavoie 12/4) "After the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) determination that class action waivers in employment arbitration agreements violate the National Labor Relations Act, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Patrick Forrest issued a statement.


"The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rightly found that the NLRB's ruling directly conflicted with provisions in the Federal Arbitration Act that encourage dispute resolution through arbitration. The NAM filed an amicus brief last year noting that such agreements help reduce business costs, and opposing the Board's attempt to regulate individual employment contracts by imposing obligations not encompassed by the National Labor Relations Act.


"Today's ruling represents another important court victory for manufacturers. This is yet another example of NAM's successful litigation efforts to vigorously oppose the aggressive abuse of authority coming from the NLRB. This decision positively affects employers by clarifying that they indeed do have the authority to utilize arbitration agreements with a class action waiver. This will help create a smoother process for resolving disputes and make for a stronger workplace. The NAM Manufacturers' Center for Legal Action will continue to fight to protect manufacturers against all aspects of NLRB overreach."


The Business Council of Alabama is the exclusive representative of the NAM in Alabama.

Farm bill will probably pass  

Roll Call (Fuller 12/4) "Despite a rocky journey that's taken more than two years, the principal negotiators in a farm bill conference showed new signs of optimism Wednesday - but not for passing a final bill before January. The top four farm bill conferees - House Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., House Agriculture ranking member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss. - met Wednesday for just over an hour.


"And, according to Stabenow, they discussed 'everything'. "'We're not getting into specifics', Stabenow told reporters as she exited Wednesday's meeting. 'It's what you would expect. But we narrowed differences. I think we've made great progress'. Stabenow said they were 'nearing differences with every part of the bill'.


"'The chairwoman is exactly right', said Lucas, who is leading the farm bill conference. 'We did create progress, we have more progress to make. We have a good-faith effort by the principals, a good-faith effort by our brilliant staff'. Even Peterson, who has openly shown his frustration with the long and novel farm bill process, said he felt more confident about a final product now than he did going into the meeting. 'Because we made progress', Lucas said. 'On everything'.


"The House bill would cut an estimated $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - more commonly known as food stamps - while the Senate bill would cut $4 billion over 10 years. In the commodity title, the major disagreement is whether to pay farmers based on base acreage or planted acreage. Indeed, passing a final bill before January appears to be a stretch at this point, with just six legislative days scheduled in the House, and the Senate, like the House, expected to adjourn Dec. 13."


US Chamber of Commerce   National Association of Manufacturers
1st Congressional District