DC Tax Flash: Congress Returns to Work Next Week

Tax Alert
09.04.2020

Congress returns to work next Tuesday, with a four-week agenda planned in the House, and a five-week legislative run in the Senate. Several major issues face lawmakers when they return, including legislation to further address the coronavirus and funding the government beyond September 30, which marks the end Fiscal Year 2020.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is considering staging a vote on a slimmed-down GOP proposal to deliver another round of virus relief. The less-ambitious GOP proposal may draw from a draft recovery bill that circulated last month. It includes liability relief, $300 per-week in bonus unemployment benefits, an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program and funding for the U.S. Postal Service to help the agency handle election-related concerns. However without Democratic support, the bill is certain to fail. 

It is possible, though not certain, that serious bipartisan negotiations with the White House will resume at some point. In testimony this week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the administration will continue to try to work with Congress to get a bipartisan deal. He called for legislation that would "provide substantial funds for schools, testing, vaccines, PPP for small businesses, continued enhanced unemployment benefits, child care, nutrition, agriculture, and the U.S. Postal Service, along with liability protection for universities, schools, and businesses." 

On funding for FY 2021, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Secretary Mnuchin have reportedly agreed to avoid a government shutdown on October 1 by working on a temporary funding bill without unrelated policy riders. A clean stop-gap funding bill would likely extend government funding into late November or early December.

On tax policy, the Ways and Means Committee is planning to hold a hearing next week entitled "Consequences of Inaction on COVID Tax Legislation." The hearing is set for September 11 in the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, which is chaired by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). A witness list has not yet been released.


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