Yesterday, The House approved a massive spending and tax package (HR 1158, HR 1865) that includes several important provisions affecting the work of charitable fundraisers. The Senate is expected to follow suit this week, and White House aides have indicated President Trump will sign the two measures into law before a temporary spending bill expires at midnight on Friday.
From completing work on pending appropriations bills to a landmark overhaul of criminal sentencing laws, the week before Christmas on Capitol Hill will go down as a hectic one, to say the least. Lawmakers are also trying to make some headway on various tax measures and extend and/or reauthorize a number of important government programs, all against a backdrop of dwindling legislative days and the likely absences of lame-duck lawmakers not coming back next year.
With under one month to go before a historic midterm election, Democrats could take control of the House in 2019 and may even stand an outside chance of gaining power in the Senate. But, as Republicans in Congress prepare for this potential “blue wave” on November 6th, they have pressed ahead in September on a vast array of matters, making some significant progress on a number of issues following their annual summer break.
Starting tomorrow the House and Senate are expected to give final approval to major tax reform legislation, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (HR 1), before sending it to President Trump who has indicated he will promptly sign the measure into law. As discussed on our December 14 update, HR 1 is the most significant re-write of the United States Tax Code in three decades and, despite a historic lobbying effort by the nonprofit community, the legislation will significantly impair tax incentives for charitable giving and make a number of other changes that will greatly affect the tax-exempt sector.
Lawmakers have, by and large, abandoned a hot and humid Washington, DC for their annual summer recess after roughly seven months of work that failed to produce a single major piece of legislation for President Trump to sign into law. By almost any objective measure, the President and Republican-controlled Congress have been stuck in a tailspin of unproductivity and have not come close to meeting the expectations many had after the November elections handed control of the White House and both Congressional chambers to one party. To make matters worse, when Congress reconvenes shortly after Labor Day, Republican leaders are bracing for a potential firestorm over the debt ceiling and government funding, two issues that must be addressed quickly in order to avoid a government default or shutdown.
With the holidays right around the corner, most lawmakers have left Washington for the year. Congress is now in recess, save some brief pro forma sessions meant to thwart any attempts at recess appointments, until the 115th Congress officially convenes on Tuesday, January 3, 2017. Lets take a brief look at how 2016 ended and what we might expect from Congress in 2017.