January 23, 2017 Weekly Legislative Update

TIA Sets Top Priorities for 2017

TIA’s top priorities for 2017 will be health care, tax reform and infrastructure.  These priorities were determined by the TIA’s Board of Directors.

With the new incoming Administration and the potential for significant changes to the health care and tax laws, TIA will focus its efforts on advocating for reforms that provide simplification and certainty for small businesses and remove burdens that negatively impact small businesses and their employees.  TIA will also work in support of infrastructure growth and investment to further jump start the economy and protect the basic resources that small businesses rely on.

Congress Takes First Step to Repeal Portions of the ACA

As expected, the 115th Congress has hit the ground running.  Just nine days into the legislative session, Congress took a significant first step towards the Republicans’ long promised goal of repealing the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”).       

The House voted to adopt a budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 3) which includes reconciliation instructions to repeal key parts of the ACA.  This same budget was passed by the Senate earlier.  Both votes were almost exclusively along party-lines, though the Democrats in the Senate did attempt to create some fissure or future political liabilities with a series of unsuccessful amendments, including an amendment that would have preserved a handful of the most popular pats of the ACA, such as the provision allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance longer.

This strategy of including reconciliation instructions in the budget resolution is targeted exclusively at avoiding a filibuster in the Senate.  In short, Congress can adopt a budget resolution with reconciliation instructions directing specific Congressional committees to develop legislation that meets certain budgetary parameters.  Items can only be included in reconciliation if they have a direct impact on revenue and outlays (which is why the entire ACA cannot be repealed through reconciliation but major provisions such as the subsidies can be).  The committees then submit their recommendations which are included in a bi-cameral budget resolution.  Debate on bills produced through reconciliation is time limited.  Thus, a reconciliation bill can pass out of the Senate on a simple majority as there is no potential for a filibuster that would require 60 votes to break.  The Republicans used this exact procedure to pass a reconciliation bill to repeal significant portions of the ACA last year, but President Obama promptly vetoed the bill and there were insufficient votes to override the veto.  With Donald Trump in the White House the presidential response to such a reconciliation bill will obviously change.

The fact that the Republicans in the House and Senate came together to support and pass the budget is about as far as the widespread agreement on how to handle the ACA goes (in fact there were some questions about whether there would be sufficient votes in the House to pass the budget).  For Republicans, the big issue isn’t reaching agreement on getting rid of the ACA but rather determining what to replace it with, which has been the subject of much debate.  Initially, certain members in the Republican leadership suggested an approach of repealing the ACA now but placing the effective date for that repeal well into the future (month or even years) to allow the party more time to determine, and come together on, a plan for replacement.  This option was scrapped as many members pushed back urging for repeal and replace to occur in close succession.

The budget resolution sets a January 27, 2017 deadline for the committees to make their recommendations.  However, there are no practical consequences if any of the committees missing the deadline.  Accordingly, we expect to see the discussions and debates over how to replace ACA to go on for quite some beyond that date as Republicans are well aware that a failed or in artfully executed repeal and replacement could be politically catastrophic for them.

RPM Act Gets a Fast Start in 2017

Bill to Protect Motorsports Reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives  

U.S. Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and his colleagues have reintroduced H.R. 350, the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2017 (RPM Act).  The bipartisan bill, which was submitted for reintroduction on the first day of the new Congress, protects Americans’ right to modify street cars and motorcycles into dedicated race vehicles and industry’s right to sell the parts that enable racers to compete.

The RPM Act is cosponsored by 44 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.  The bill ensures that transforming motor vehicles into racecars used exclusively in competition does not violate the Clean Air Act.  For nearly 50 years, the practice was unquestioned until the EPA published proposed regulations in 2015 that deemed such conversions illegal and subject to severe penalties.  While the EPA withdrew the problematic language from the final rule making last year, the agency still maintains the practice is unlawful.  

TIA and SEMA looks forward to working with Congress to enact the RPM Act and make permanent the Clean Air Act’s original intention that race vehicle conversions are legal. We thank Representative McHenry and all the cosponsors for reintroducing a bill that will protect businesses that produce, install and sell the parts that enable racers to compete.

When the RPM Act was first introduced in 2016, racing enthusiasts and Americans working in the motorsports parts industry flooded Congress with nearly 200,000 letters in support of the bill.  More than one-fourth of the U.S. House of Representatives joined as bill cosponsors as a result.  However, the shortened election year schedule did not permit sufficient time for passage of the bill by the previous Congress.

"Last year I was proud to lead the fight against the misguided EPA regulation targeting racing, but our work is not done,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry.  “In the coming months, I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the new Administration to ensure the RPM Act becomes law." 

Motorsports competition involves tens of thousands of participants and vehicle owners each year, both amateur and professional.  Retail sales of racing products make up a $1.4 billion market annually.  There are an estimated 1,300 racetracks operating across the U.S., including oval, road, track and off-road racetracks, the majority of which feature converted race vehicles that the EPA now considers to be illegal. 

We will continue to update you on the progress of this legislation.