Issues / Legislation » Legislative Weekly Reports

Week Ending December 1, 2017

  • Republican-Led Senate Approves Tax Bill that is Harmful for Working Families
  • HHS Nominee Faces Tough Questions from Senate Panel

Republican-Led Senate Approves Harmful Tax Bill - Bad for Middle Class Families

On Friday, the Senate approved, along party lines, a bill that provides huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, paid for by raising taxes on working families and taking health coverage away for millions. The deficits caused by the bill would also trigger automatic cuts of $410 billion in Medicare over 10 years and cuts of $1 trillion to other public services. AFSCME strongly opposes this tax package.

The bill grants unnecessary, regressive and costly tax breaks to the wealthiest 1 percent and large profitable corporations and makes these tax cuts permanent. On the other hand, tax cuts that benefit working families will be temporary. By 2021, the bill will increase taxes on individuals earning $10,000 to $30,000. By 2027, it increases taxes on 87 million middle-class families, including 67 million households that earn below $100,000. The bill would kill jobs by reducing taxes on multinational corporations that outsource U.S. jobs to low-tax countries.

The plan also eliminates the deduction for state and local income and sales taxes and caps the deductions for property taxes. Changing these deductions means that families will be taxed twice on the same income. The changes to the state and local tax deductions make it more difficult for states and localities to raise the revenues needed to provide public education, health care and other vital public services. Unfortunately, the bill undermines health care by repealing a core feature of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which will cause 13 million to lose their health coverage and will drive premiums up by 10 percent.

Because the Senate bill differs from legislation approved by the House, congressional leaders will need to resolve differences in their bills and agree to a compromise bill or, more likely, the House can opt to vote on the Senate bill next week.

Please read our alert below and take action immediately.

Call Your Representative to Stop the Tax Bill!

We can still stop this tax giveaway to corporations and the wealthy.

Call your U.S. Representative toll-free at 1-866-957-9069.

Leave a message for him/her to vote no on the tax bill because it cuts health care and raises taxes on working families in order to provide tax cuts for millionaires, billionaires and corporations.

HHS Nominee Faces Tough Questions from Senate Panel

Alex Azar, President Donald Trump's pick to serve as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was pressed at a Senate hearing this week over his willingness to take on pharmaceutical companies over the high cost of medications. Azar, who recently served as the CEO of the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co., faced pointed questions over Eli Lilly’s tripling of the price of its insulin product, used by those with diabetes, during his tenure at the company. Under his leadership, the drug company also used loopholes in the law to extend the life of its patents and stop generic drugs from entering the market, actions that drive up costs for health plans, employers and consumers.

Azar was also questioned on his support for the Trump administration’s recent move to expand the right of employers who oppose the use of birth control, to impose this view on their workers by excluding contraception coverage from health plans. Under the ACA, most employers must provide contraception coverage as part of workplace health plans and it must be available free of co-pays, like other prevention services.

Azar also expressed support for the administration’s recent actions to undercut the ACA — such as shortening the open enrollment period and cutting advertising and outreach budgets designed to expand health coverage.  

Given Azar’s experience and views, AFSCME is opposed to his nomination.

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