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    Congress Preview 280

    A Preview of the 115th Congress

    The 115th Congress was sworn in on Tuesday, in a warm ceremony. You may not know that this is the most racially diverse Congress in history. This story from The Hill has more details including other demographics of interest.

    Legislators got straight to work on some of the issues discussed below while scheduling at least four confirmation hearings for President-Elect Trump’s nominees ( the first set of hearings will be held next week, and you can check out a list of those already scheduled here).

    Tax Reform

    Although a top priority for the 115th Congress, Republican plans to overhaul the tax code will likely not come together immediately. The House has reportedly begun drafting legislation, while the Senate is currently focused on the ACA repeal as well as President-Elect Trump’s cabinet nominees. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) has a plan on the table that would reduce the seven invidual income tax rates to three; between that and several other proposals, expect major change.

    In the realm of tax credits, Senators Shaheen, Gillibrand and Schatz have already introduced the “Right Start Child Care and Education Act,” which would expand the child care tax credit and provide additional assistance to working families for childcare expenses. This legislation was also introduced in the 113th Congress and again in the 114th.

    Internet Sales Tax

    Rep. Michael Enzi (R-WY), Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) both have online sales tax bills to introduce – continuing efforts from the 114th Congress. At question here are a combination of concerns to protect states, brick and mortar stores, and internet sellers while seeking legislation that does not overcomplicate the process or make implementation unaffordable.

    Financial Stability

    Medicare/Medicaid/SS – cuts to Medicaid are likely, and cuts to Medicare and Social Security, though more controversial, will be part of the conversation.

    SNAP and TANF – with TANF and the Farm Bill up for reauthorization in the 115th Congress, legislators will be seeking to make changes to both programs. Look for an emphasis on fraud enforcement, consistent work, education and training standards, and innovations for effectiveness and efficiency.

    Higher Education

    Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who will become chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, has been vocal in her support of for-profit educational institutions and may seek to revise rules limiting student loans at for-profit colleges. Meanwhile, Senate lawmakers will be working on legislation to reauthorize higher education programs.

    These are just some of the major issues that will be taken up over the next weeks and months of the 115th Congress. Sign up for our alerts to take action for the people Goodwill® serves – your voice makes the biggest difference in our work.


    Public Policy & Advocacy Program Manager
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