The headlines continue to suggest risk abounds. If you are selling to a government customer, you mitigate risk by remaining engaged. Despite what appears to be bad news at every turn, a nearly $700B defense authorization bill (NDAA) moved through the Senate last week. While an authorization doesn’t spend, as does an appropriation, the NDAA represents strong Congressional recognition of national security needs. Additionally, Congress moved a $15B disaster relief bill through both the House and Senate, and on to President Trump, in record time. When pressed, and when the ideological positions can be tempered, important things can get done.
- Health Care reform. The Senate is trying mightily to use the special status of an expiring reconciliation process to get ANY change to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) through a successful vote. Squeezing out any bill would allow that Senate version to proceed to conference with the previously passed House version of a Health Care bill. The resistance of Senators like McCain, Collins and Murkowski is largely rooted in the desire to have legislation of this magnitude move through “regular order” via committees, as opposed to moving through a deal with leadership. Odds of Graham-Cassidy passing with 51 votes before September 30th looks unlikely.
- Tax Relief package. Tax relief has been widely mentioned as the top priority for the Republican Party going into the 2018 midterm elections. The players striving to achieve consensus are known as “The Big Six”: Sen. Finance Chairman Hatch, Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan, House Ways and Means Chairman Brady, Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The Senate appears to be striving to achieve a 1.5T tax cut. As with other issues, Republicans are attempting to align multiple inter-related issues to achieve consensus. The House Freedom Caucus leaders, Reps Jordan and Meadows, made clear in a WSJ op-ed this week that they have their own ideas of what a tax package must include.
- Continuing Resolution (CR). Yes, Fiscal Year 2018 begins on Sunday, October 1st. Congress has passed a CR that will run through December 9th. We are a long way from being done with the remaining appropriations process. As is typical, the House has outpaced the Senate on appropriations committee work. The Senate has yet to move any of the 12 appropriations bills to the floor. Look for a series of “mini-bus” appropriations through the fall. As much as we all dislike CR’s, they have been used to some degree in 36 of the past 40 years.
Thank you for your continued readership – we’ll keep an eye on things so you can stay focused on your business.