Taxes and Spending Issues in the Lame-duck Congress

Posted on December 11, 2018

Lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., this week to continue their post-election lame-duck session. It isn’t clear exactly what issues they will deal with, but taxes and spending are major concerns.

One key issue that NAIOP continues to focus on is the need to fix some clerical errors in the 2017 tax reform bill. NAIOP is part of a group of hundreds of organizations and businesses pressing for a technical corrections law. This would require a majority in the House and at least 60 votes in the Senate, so it would need to be bipartisan. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have indicated they understand the need for action on at least one issue: Qualified Improvement Property.

Lawmakers also face a December 7 deadline to fully fund the federal government. They passed, and President Donald Trump signed, a partial budget in September, just before the 2019 fiscal year began. Time is of the essence when it comes to completing the spending bill, as there are only about 12 legislative days available in the lame-duck session.

Before the Thanksgiving holiday, lawmakers also began preparing for the new Congress, which takes office in January. Republicans will be the minority party in the House and selected Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California as minority leader. In the Senate, Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa will chair the Finance Committee and serve as president pro tempore.

Democrats are expected to select Nancy Pelosi as House speaker, but she is facing challenges from within her caucus. Before the holiday, 16 Democrats signed a letter vowing to oppose Pelosi. “We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise,” the letter concluded. Pelosi needs to win a majority of Democrats in a caucus vote this week to make her the party’s candidate for speaker. The speakership will be decided by the new Congress in January.

In any event, a divided government will be the norm in Washington for the next two years. Even after Republicans lost the House, they still hold the White House, and the GOP will control at least 52 seats in the new Senate.

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