Government Affairs

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Federal Policy Update - July 14

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Health Care

Health Care Reform

  • On July 13, the Senate Republican leadership released its revised version of its Better Care Reconciliation Act to replace the Affordable Care Act after at least 10 Senators opposed an earlier version of the bill released in late June.  The Senate is expected to vote the week of July 17, but Majority Leader McConnell will continue to face challenges in garnering enough support to pass it given he can only afford to lose two votes and Democrats will not support the bill.  The revised bill, in part, repeals the individual and employer mandates, cuts Medicaid spending, allows for Health Savings Accounts to pay for their premiums, provides additional funding for substance abuse treatment and recovery, and repeals some taxes. 

 

Labor

Overtime Rule

  • The Department of Labor will revisit through new rulemaking President Obama’s overtime rule that would have doubled the salary threshold for overtime eligibility.  The Department will initiate rulemaking after the  federal appeals court affirms the Department has the right to use salary levels to determine eligibility for time-and-a half pay in the future.  During Secretary Acosta’s confirmation hearing, he said that he might be comfortable with a salary threshold in the low $30,000 range to account for inflation in recent years.  On June 27, the Department sent a request for information on the overtime rule to the Office of Management and Budget. The details of the request, which have not yet been made public, may shed some light on the specific aspects of the rule the DOL wants to tweak.

Paid Family Leave Program –

  •  Ivanka Trump recently defended her paid family leave plan in her op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.   She shares that “a recent poll by the National Partnership for Women and Families found that 82% of voters think it is important for Congress to consider a paid-leave program.”  She argues that “providing a national guaranteed paid-leave program- with a reasonable time limit and benefit cap – isn’t an entitlement, it’s an investment in America’s working families.”
  •  In a letter to President Trump, House Democrats criticize Ivanka Trump’s paid family leave program, which was included in President Trump’s 2018 budget.  They argue it is “inadequate because it only provides six weeks of paid leave for limited circumstances and without a solid funding mechanism.”  Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) is also criticizing the administration’s paid leave proposal and is championing the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act that she authored and reintroduced with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).

Joint Employer Standard

 

Tax

Federal Tax Reform

  • The Republican leadership of the Senate, House of Representatives, and Administration remain committed to passing tax reform before the end of the year.  They are working to reach an agreement to be released in September and October; however, the challenges in passing health care reform and a FY 2018 budget resolution will impact the future prospects of tax reform.  The House and Senate are holding hearings throughout July with the House addressing tax reform’s impacts on small businesses and individuals and the Senate addressing the prospects and challenges of tax reform.  Chairman of the Subcommittee on Tax Policy Peter Roskam (R-IL) said that the Subcommittee is “actively working” on provisions to allow small businesses to deduct the interest they pay on debt, which would change the House Republican’s tax proposal elimination of the business interest deduction.
  • The House Republicans’ proposal to eliminate the interest deduction while allowing businesses to immediately write off the full costs of their capital investments has gained great attention and caused contention.  The Businesses United for Interest and Loan Deductibility (BUILD) Coalition, representing agriculture, manufacturing, and telecommunications industries, is urging the House and Senate to keep the tax deduction for business’ interest expenses.
  • Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Orrin Hatch is asking the public’s input and recommendations on tax reform.  He has particular interest in recommendations about “how to provide tax relief to middle-class families, lower rates and broaden the tax base for businesses, remove obstacles to saving and investment and make the international tax system more competitive.”  Stakeholders can submit comments by July 17 to taxreform2017@finance.senate.gov.  Chairman Hatch is going to keep groups' comments confidential in order to guarantee commenters' privacy.

 

Beverage and Food

Menu Labeling

  • The Food and Drug Administration extended its deadline for comments on restaurant menu-labeling rules by 30 days after the National Restaurant Association asked for extra time beyond the original July 3 deadline.  Comments are now due by August 2, 2017. Menu labeling requirements were originally included in the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010.
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