Another bumpy stretch for the highway bill… House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster just can’t wait to go through 280 amendments to the $325 billion highway bill. Democrats will try to make sure the six-year, funded-for-three-years, bill does not tap revenue from customs user fees. They will also try to block a provision that would require the IRS to use private debt collectors to track down delinquent taxpayers. Speaker Ryan says the bill is “a good example of how we’re going to do the people’s business.” He may regret it.
We’re closing in on a new Ways & Means Committee chair. Today, the House Steering Committee is expected to tap either Pat Tiberi or Kevin Brady to replace Ryan as chair of the tax writing committee. Ryan has reportedly been publicly neutral on the choice, which will have to be ratified by the full GOP conference.
Also on the Hill. The Senate Budget Committee holds a hearing today on the biennial budget process. It will hear from senators Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Tom Carper of Delaware, former Speaker of the Ohio House William G. Batchelder, and Bob Bixby of the Concord Coalition.
About that budget deal… The House will spend the next month fighting over whether to add policy riders to an omnibus appropriations bill. Ryan has given the greenlight for Republicans to add such provisions, likely including funding bans for Planned Parenthood and parts of the Affordable Care Act. While Congress has approved a two-year budget framework, the government is operating on a temporary spending bill that expires on December 11.
The IRS Taxpayer Advocate isn’t happy with the agency. Tax Analysts reports that Nina Olson disagrees with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s efforts to scale back the agency’s work in the face of budget pressures. Koskinen has said “that instead of doing more with less in budget-constrained times, the agency was going to do less with less.” But Olson says that attitude demoralizes the IRS workforce and further erodes customer service. She’s also troubled by the increased centralization of the IRS. In contrast, Olson said the Taxpayer Advocate Service will examine “where we need to be in terms of the taxpayer population.”
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