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November 10th, 2017
Weekly Update From Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo
Highlights of What Congress Did This Week
Update on the House GOP Tax Plan
Last week the Republicans introduced their tax plan and I laid out why I oppose the legislation. It’s an assault on the middle class, it’s unfair and it adds $1.5 trillion to our national debt. It also eliminates important tax deductions that middle class families need, such as the elimination of the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT). Almost 200,000 of my constituents benefit from this deduction, which averages $31,193 every year. On the other hand, the tax plan allows businesses to keep their deductibility for state and local taxes.
This week I want you to have the most up-to-date details of the tax plan.
The bill limits the mortgage interest deduction (MID) to $500,000 on newly purchased homes. This amount goes nowhere in our region, and the change, along with doubling the standard deduction, would cause a significant number of homeowners who currently itemize their deductions and claim the MID, to claim the standard deduction instead. This could have a direct impact on home values, which is typically the most valuable asset we have.
Under the tax plan, multinational corporations receive a tax cut of $1 trillion by lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. The bill also eliminates the estate tax in 2024. Today, estates valued below $5.5 million for individuals and $11 million for couples are not taxed at all, and fewer than 1 in 500 estates in our country are currently subject to the tax each year. What the tax plan does is immediately double the exemption on the estate tax, and after six years, repeals it entirely. The plan also eliminates the alternative minimum tax (AMT) which was designed to prevent high-income taxpayers from escaping their “fair” share of the income tax burden.
In addition to adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt, the Republican Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget includes substantial cuts to Medicare. Congress passed the FY18 budget to clear the path for this tax plan by allowing the Senate to pass tax legislation with 51 votes rather than the 60 that are usually required. The FY18 budget calls for $473 billion in cuts to Medicare over ten years, slashing the social safety net for so many seniors, while at the same time giving a massive tax cut to the super-wealthy and multinational companies. To read my letter on the House GOP tax plan, CLICK HERE.
Voted on H.R. 3043, the Hydropower Policy Modernization Act
This week the House voted on legislation that is a direct assault on major environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. The Hydropower Policy Modernization Act drastically alters the process for licensing hydroelectric dams, many of which were last licensed 30 to 50 years ago. I’m a supporter of hydropower as a renewable and emission-free source of electricity, but it must be done in a way that minimizes impacts to wildlife and water quality. H.R. 3043 creates a new process under which reviews of the impacts of dams on wildlife and the environment would be drastically shortened or ignored altogether. It also limits the ability of states and Native American tribes to weigh in on this process, which is why the state of California opposes the bill. H.R. 3043 places private profits over public interest with respect to the resource that is essential to life – water.
Legislation Anna Co-Sponsored This Week
H.R. 4240, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act
Once again our nation bore witness to a mass shooting, this time at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Twenty six innocent men, women and children have lost their lives and at least 10 are in critical condition. Certainly our hearts and prayers are with the grieving families who have lost their loved ones.
We owe our prayers for the hundreds of thousands of victims of gun violence, but we also owe them sensible gun legislation. This week I cosponsored the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, which closes loopholes to require a background check on all commercial gun sales, including those at gun shows, on the Internet, or through classified ads. Background checks would be done using the existing FBI-run system that is in place for federally licensed dealers. Under current law, up to 40 percent of gun sales are completed without a background check because they fall under the loophole of “private sales.”
Policy Letters Anna Wrote and Cosigned This Week
Letter to EPA on Purging of Science Advisory Boards
This week, I joined several colleagues in opposing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s move to bar scientists who have received EPA grant funding from serving on the EPA Science Advisory Board. The Science Advisory Board is an important independent body that provides advice on the scientific basis for EPA rules. They also consult on the technical aspects of EPA’s research programs.
Administrator Pruitt’s irresponsible action will weaken the independent scientific expertise the EPA depends on to fulfill its mandate to protect the environment. Receiving an EPA grant does not constitute a conflict of interest, and Administrator Pruitt has proposed no limitation on scientists who receive industry funding for their research. The Administrator’s action is a blatant attempt to move the Board under industry influence.
Letter to Senate HELP Committee on CTE Programs
In June of this year the House unanimously passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (CTE). This legislation reauthorizes the Perkins Act for the first time in over ten years. This legislation will help more Americans enter the workforce with the knowledge and skills they need to compete for good-paying, in-demand jobs in industries critical to our nation’s economy.
A letter from me and several colleagues urges the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee to consider this legislation and pass it quickly in the Senate.
This week I had the opportunity to speak with KRON4 about gun control and the House GOP tax plan. This plan is a direct assault on the middle class and will hurt our country.
In My Constituents’ Words
Every week hundreds of my constituents call and write to me to express their concerns, share their passions and ask questions regarding legislation and policies. I actually read every communication and every constituent receives a personal response to their specific questions and comments.
Here are some of the issues constituents wrote and called me about this week:
· 695 constituents wrote to me to express their opposition to the Ryan-McConnell Tax Plan
· 245 constituents wrote to me in opposition of the USA Liberty Act, which would reform and reauthorize Sec. 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which authorizes the surveillance of communications from non-U.S. residents.
· 474 constitutions wrote to me to express their opposition to the SECURE American Energy Act, which is designed to promote oil and gas drilling at the expense of environmental protections.
Anna’s Recommended Reading
Frequently, I read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
The Washington Post- “All your major questions about the GOP tax plan, answered”
The Washington Post published an excellent analysis last week answering all your possible questions on the Ryan-McConnell Tax plan, including how individual tax rates are changing, what is happening to the State and Local Tax deduction (SALT) and what deductions are eliminated under this plan.
The New York Times- “Republican Plan Would Raise Taxes on Millions”
A new analysis from the New York Times found that under the Ryan-McConnell tax plan, millions of middle-class families — particularly those with children — would see an immediate tax increase, averaging about $2,000. Among the hardest-hit under the plan would be some of the most vulnerable taxpayers: those with huge out-of-pocket medical expenses. By 2026, almost half of middle-class families would suffer a tax hike.
Congresswoman Suzan Delbene (D-WA)- “Ways and Means Committee Markup of GOP Tax Plan”
I hope you’ll take the time to watch this remarkable line of questioning from my friend and colleague, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA), during a meeting of the tax writing Committee of Ways and Means on the tax plan proposal. It’s ‘teachable’ questioning.
The New York Times- “Want Kids, a Degree or a Home? The Tax Bill Will Cost You“
This is another great article from the New York Times explaining why the GOP tax plan is an immense giveaway to the rich.
In this section, you will find information on the many ways my office can help you and your family. Below is a list of the issues we commonly address. If you cannot find what you're looking for, please either email me or call my Palo Alto District Office and we will do our best to answer any questions you may have.