Weekly Legislative Update October 26, 2020

Goals For Stimulus, Appropriations, And WOTC After Election 

The House is in recess with members campaigning for election, and Senate is scheduled to depart this evening.

With GOP control of the Senate hanging on the loss of four seats, electioneering has greater priority for Republicans than remaining to debate a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill.

Moreover, on Wednesday GOP senators emphatically voiced their preference for a $650 billion narrow stimulus bill ($500 billion in new money plus $150 billion in unused PPP loan authority.)

Fifty-one Republicans voted to take up the narrow stimulus bill (S.178 with Senate Amendt. 2652) but were foiled by Democrats. The vote was 51-44, nine votes short of 60 required to consider the bill. Senator McConnell can call up the bill again, however.

Had Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin reached agreement sooner, it might have been possible to resolve GOP senators’ opposition to a larger stimulus. But this late, it’s hardly possible to fix the problem in the last week before elections.

Election day will produce a new constellation of power in the Congress and change the calculations of the participants. This will impact three major tasks Congress cannot avoid after the election—a stimulus bill, appropriations to fund the government, and extension of the work opportunity tax credit, VOW to Hire Heroes Act hiring credits, and other tax code provisions expiring December 31st.

 

We expect stimulus to be top priority in November as COVID-19 infections develop, vaccine prospects emerge, and Federal Reserve governors renew their frequent warnings of recession risk. Our goals will continue to be enacting the new Employee Retention and Rehiring Tax Credit and the new COVID-19 WOTC target group. 

Continuing appropriations to fund the government expire December 11th. If the current “lame duck” Congress hasn’t agreed an omnibus appropriations bill by that date, to avoid a government shutdown it can enact a further continuing resolution till January or later.

The new 117th Congress begins January 3rd. President Trump continues in office till January 20, when either he or his successor is sworn.

The House of Representatives has sole power to originate revenue measures. If Democrats win the presidency or gain seats in the new Congress, they may opt for another continuing resolution till next year to have a stronger voice in writing the omnibus for remainder of FY 2021.

With an omnibus bill to fund the government, our goal will be to attach an amendment calling for permanent or long-run extension of WOTC and VOW to Hire Heroes Act credits.

With a continuing resolution, our goal is the same but we may have to wait till the end of February or later to extend WOTC and the VOW Act credits because a new Congress often takes till February or March to get organized.

This raises the prospect of WOTC and the VOW Act credits expiring for months, sometimes two or three, sometimes longer. We’ll work to forestall this at all costs, because we know there are only a few tax bills a year and we may have to wait till June or July for a bill to enact WOTC and VOW Act credits if they’ve expired.

We’ve been through this scenario before and can deal with it. 

Fortunately, a high percentage of tax writers of both Parties whom we work with will win re-election. We have committed supporters who understand what we’re aiming for, and should the presidency change hands, we’ll promptly connect with the new White House and department officials to explain our expectations, especially regarding the President’s budget.

There’s a cloudy sky ahead, but our unity and commitment are rock-solid. When election returns roll in, we’ll meet new faces and gain new allies. We’ll get the job done.

Remember to Vote for Right to Repair!

Right to Repair will be one of two questions before Massachusetts voters.

Remember, 86% of MA voted in favor of the Right To Repair Question in 2012, but by this year, 2020, advancements in vehicle technology and increasing restrictions by automakers will result in more than 90% of new cars being equipped to transmit real-time diagnostic and repair information wirelessly to vehicle manufacturers, threatening the rights that we enjoy today to choose to get our car fixed at trusted independent repair shops or do the work ourselves.  

Without an update to this law our trusted independent repair shops will be unable to fix their loyal customers cars and thus consumers will have less choice and pay more for their car repairs. The spirit of the Right to Repair Law was to ensure a consumer’s right to get their car repaired where they choose - technology advancements should not impair that choice!

There are over 3,000+ independent repair shops and auto part stores in Massachusetts who rely on access to repair and diagnostic information to properly repair vehicles. It’s critical that this question passes at the ballot so that we can protect mostly importantly the rights of consumers, but also the 30,000 jobs in our independent repair and auto parts industry.

You may have seen ads on both sides of Question 1 as car manufacturers are using egregious scare tactics to continue to hold a monopoly on wireless repair information. Both cyber security experts and law enforcement concur that giving the owner of the car their own car repair information can be done safely and securely - This legislation and ballot initiative do NOT cover GPS or personal information!

We’re almost there! If you live in Massachusetts, come out (or mail in) and vote YES ON QUESTION 1 to protect your car repair choice this November! If you do not live in Massachusetts but have outlets in the state, let us know and we can help get information to those locations to share with their customers.

A few weeks ago, TIA discussed Right to Repair in a virtual meeting with the largest retailers in the country. Tommy Hickey, Director of the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition and Tony DeSimone, Executive Director New England Tire & Service Association spoke about the efforts in Massachusetts currently underway. TIA continues to educate members on this issue and we continue to fight for this important ballot measure.