Joe Courtney

Grassley: ‘Cadillac’ tax repeal points way to extenders deal
PAYGO rules may no longer be a hindrance, Iowa Republican hints

Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley sees a way forward on a tax extenders deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley sees a “little bit of progress” on the tax extenders front in House Democrats’ decision to push repeal of the “Cadillac tax” on high-cost health insurance plans, without offsets for the lost revenue.

The House’s pay-as-you-go rules have been a hindrance for much of the year on moving legislation to extend tax breaks that expired at the end of 2017 and 2018. The most expensive of those is a provision originally authored by Grassley in 2004 to provide a $1 per gallon biodiesel blenders tax credit which costs about $3 billion a year.

House to vote on health care ‘Cadillac tax’ repeal
Surcharge on certain high-cost employer health plans was envisioned as a way to pay for Obamacare law

Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., sponsored the repeal bill, which has been a priority for both the insurance industry and labor unions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House plans to vote Wednesday on legislation that would roll back the so-called “Cadillac tax” under the 2010 health care law known as Obamacare.

The 40 percent surcharge tax applies to certain high-cost employer health care plans (hence the “Cadillac tax” nickname). It isn’t set to take effect until 2022, and Congress has twice delayed its implementation.

Is there consensus on the new House consensus calendar?
While seen as encouraging bipartisanship, some worry about unintended consequences

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., is a supporter of the consensus calendar but does not want it to be used to get around other procedural rules like PAYGO. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Joe Wilson was the first member to take advantage of a new House rule designed to bring broadly supported bipartisan bills to the floor. The South Carolina Republican’s legislation to end the so-called widow’s tax received a vote Friday, but it was not the vote he envisioned.

Wilson’s bill, the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act, would end a disparity between government payments made to surviving spouses of servicemembers who die on active duty. The “widow’s tax,” as the current complication in the law is known, requires the surviving spouses to forfeit much of their Department of Defense Survivor Benefit Plan annuity when they receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs by deducting from the former the value of the latter.

‘Cadillac tax’ repeal could get floor action, thanks to Pelosi’s new rule
The tax is aimed at high-cost health care plans

Speaker Nancy Pelosi ushered in a new way to bring bills to the floor. Now members of her party want to use it to repeal the so-called “Cadillac Tax.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Moderate Democrats in the House won a major victory last year when incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi supported a new rule that can force her to bring to the floor bills with at least 290 co-sponsors.

Ironically, one of the first to benefit from the process could be a bill to repeal a feature of the 2010 health care law. The provision imposed a tax on high-cost health care plans in order to pay for the law’s new spending. Health care economists supported the tax as a way of suppressing rising health costs, but labor unions — which often negotiate generous insurance benefits for their members — don’t like it.

Air Force halts deliveries of Boeing tankers for second time
The planes were refused after Boeing failed to resolve issues with tools and parts being left in plane compartments

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson walks through the Capitol Senate subway stop on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Air Force is again refusing to accept Boeing’s KC-46 Pegasus tankers after the company failed to resolve issues with tools and parts erroneously left in the plane’s compartments, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told lawmakers Tuesday.

The tankers, based on a 767 commercial jet, are the latest problem for the domestic aerospace giant, which has been under intense scrutiny since the recent fatal crashes of two 737-Max planes.

Dems Have Walked Out Over Guns, and Now Kavanaugh
Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono aren’t the only ones to make a dramatic exit in the Trump era

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and a handful of other Democrats headed for the exits Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As a group of Democrats strode out of the hearing room Friday morning, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley wasn’t pleased.

“You folks who are photographers know that you’re supposed to sit down,” he said over the clicking cameras.

Do-Nothing Amendments Give Lawmakers Bragging Opportunity About Successes
Provisions have no real-world impact

Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., is among the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents this midterm cycle. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House adopted amendments on a two-bill spending package last week purporting to redirect sums ranging from $100,000 to study the impact of a mineral found to cause cracking in concrete home foundations, to $36 million for “public safety and justice facility construction” at the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

There’s just one catch: the provisions simply give the illusion of moving money around — with no real-world impact on agency funding priorities. The net financial impact of all 14 such amendments considered during debate on the $58.7 billion Interior-Environment and Financial Services measure — out of 87 total floor amendments on the bill — was precisely zero.

Proposals Would Help Homeowners, Make Ex-Presidents Pay for Office Supplies
Financial Services spending bill amendments also could affect local post offices

Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., wants to bar the U.S. Postal Service for expanding its offering of financial services. Other proposed amendments to the Financial Services spending bill would help homeowners with bad foundations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Local post offices would be barred from offering most banking services, homeowners with crumbling foundations would get some help and ex-presidents would have to pay for their own office supplies under proposals to amend the House’s fiscal 2019 Financial Services spending bill.

Proposed amendments also include some of the usual suspects: keeping the District of Columbia from enforcing certain local laws, allowing federally insured banks to take deposits from companies in the marijuana industry, and barring federal funds from being spent at properties owned by President Donald Trump.

Republican Golfers Relax on the Links, Beat Out Democrats
GOP prevails in the 17th annual Congressional Challenge golf tournament

Reps. Luke Messer R-Ind., Rick Allen, R-Ga., right, play against Reps. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., and Albio Sires, D-N.J., during the First Tee’s Congressional Challenge annual golf tournament at the Columbia Country Club golf course Monday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

In a rare moment in this divisive Congress, a bipartisan group of members spent a peaceful morning just putting around.

They whispered conversations while waiting for a teammate on the green, told each other “nice shot” or laughed at a bad one, and otherwise enjoyed a quiet morning bonding over their love of golf.

Roll Call’s 2018 March Madness — The Final Four
Four Republicans and four Democrats left standing

We are down to the final four teams in both the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments.