House returns amid debt limit, reconciliation debate
The House of Representatives will go back into session today amid continuing debate about the debt limit and the budget reconciliation bill, including tax provisions that would affect farmers and ranchers.
The House is scheduled to go back into session at 2 p.m. Following one-minute speeches, the House is expected to recess until approximately 4:30 p.m. At that time the House will reconvene to consider bills listed for consideration under suspension of the rules and hold votes at 6:30 p.m.
The most immediate issue facing the Congress appears to be the need to address the statutory debt limit.
On Sept. 8, after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Congress about the United States reaching the debt limit, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said, “Secretary Yellen has now warned Congress, for the third time, that we must act to prevent a default on our debt as early as next month.”
“It would be a disaster for our economy and for tens of millions of American families if Republicans refuse to join Democrats in responsibly addressing the debt limit. Raising or suspending the debt limit, which Republicans did three times under President Trump, to forestall such a catastrophe, would not authorize any additional spending. Instead, it allows our country to make good on the purchases it has already made, most of which was incurred by the previous administration — keeping the full faith and credit of our word that the United States will pay its bills on time.”
On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tweeted, “Let’s be clear: With a Democratic president, a Democratic House, and a Democratic Senate, Democrats have every tool they need to raise the debt limit. It is their sole responsibility. Republicans will not facilitate another reckless, partisan taxing and spending spree.”
Hoyer then issued a lengthy history of Republican support for raising the debt limit in the past and said, “After years of voting to suspend the debt limit under Republican presidents, congressional Republicans have changed their tune, and are now refusing to work with Democrats to ensure that America can pay its bills on time.”
“Raising or suspending the debt limit does not authorize new spending; in fact, much of the debt was accumulated under the Trump administration. In spite of the facts, Republicans are risking the health of America’s economy in order to score partisan points.”
Meanwhile, the debate over the Democrats’ proposed budget reconciliation bill continues and the schedule for the House to consider the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill continues.
The budget reconciliation bill as currently written would provide $3.5 trillion in additional spending for a variety of programs including agricultural research and development, forestry and biofuels programs. Part of the spending would be offset by tax increases.
Last week the House Ways and Means Committee passed the tax provisions without including the Biden administration’s proposed elimination of stepped-up basis, the system of revaluing assets including farm land at the time of death and allowing heirs to pay capital gains taxes only on the difference between the value at time of death and the time of sale rather than the difference between the price paid by the original owner and the time of sale.
Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal noted that there is still sentiment among some Senate Democrats to eliminate stepped-up basis or make some other change.
According to the WSJ, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has described stepped-up basis as “the lowest hanging fruit” in the tax debate, but there are also other proposals including not taxing the assets at the time of death or raising the capital gains rate higher than the Ways and Means Committee proposed.
The Ways and Means instruction to the House Budget Committee is to raise the capital gains rate from 20% to 25% for high earners, and one proposal is to raise it as high as 31.8%, the WSJ said.
On Sunday, The New York Times said in a lead story that President Biden’s “agenda and legacy ride” on this “single piece of legislation.”
The uncertainty about the budget reconciliation bill also raises the question of whether the House will vote on the Senate-passed infrastructure and jobs bill by Sept. 27, the date House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has promised.
On Sunday, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., told CNN that the House “can” pass the infrastructure and jobs bill by that time unless there is so much disagreement between Democratic progressives and moderates “we never get to that point.”
Clyburn also said he would attempt to find compromise between the progressives who want the $3.5 trillion bill and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-Va., who has said he doesn’t want to vote for a bill bigger than $1.5 trillion.
Axios reported Sunday that Manchin last week told a group of employees at a Proctor & Gamble facility in Martinsburg, W. Va., he wanted to pause all the talk about the $3.5 trillion bill until 2022.
House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmouth, D-Ky., told Fox News Sunday, “I would say we’re probably going to slip past the Sept. 27 date. Sometime into early October would be my best guess.”
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