We Must Do More to Rein In Spending and Overreach

Last week, Congress passed comprehensive “omnibus” spending legislation that will fund the government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2016.  Meaning “for everything,” omnibus legislation is a vehicle for combining appropriations funding bills with other items commonly known as “riders,” which make the underlying legislation more palatable.

Because omnibus bills are large in size and scope, last week’s legislation included both good and bad.  If we were going to pass the bad, there ought to have been more good riders for balance.  I could not vote for it, believing it left out certain items of importance to me and residents of the Ninth District.

In an effort to try and improve the bill, I worked with Congressmen Jim Jordan (R-OH), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Justin Amash (R-MI), Alex Mooney (R-WV), and others on a proposal that, if it had been adopted, would have added in a number of conservative riders.

One of our provisions, for example, would have helped industries including the coal industry by putting a one-year moratorium on the Obama Administration’s Stream Buffer Zone Rule.  I and others were of the belief that the underlying bill would include pro-coal language to stop the implementation of this rule.  I was frustrated to learn that despite these assurances, that language was not included.

Others would have protected health care providers who do not wish to provide abortions.  A nurse should have a choice, and should not be forced to participate in performing an abortion he or she find is in violation of their moral beliefs.  Another item we proposed dealt with cyber security.

Unfortunately, our proposals were not ultimately included in the omnibus bill.  Accordingly, I voted no.

More Certainty in the Tax Code

As you know, I believe the current tax code is too lengthy and complex.  Making the code simpler and fairer with lower tax rates continues to be a priority of mine.

While much of the code needs to be reformed, for many years, Congress has been granting people certain tax credits and deductions.  In typical Washington fashion, however, Congress has waited to grant these benefits until December of the year in which the taxpayer was to get the credit.  As such, families, farmers, and businesses haven’t had much certainty as to what the next year would bring.

As House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said, “We have been extending these provisions for one year at a time, every year.  [One of these has] been extended for 34 years.  Others for 19, 17 years.  We know them well.”

Recently, I supported an important package, which became law, to improve the tax code and provide more certainty by making permanent many tax benefits.

This package makes permanent a research and development tax credit, which should help encourage innovation.

This package also includes a permanent extension of the child tax credit, which is intended to help offset some of the costs of raising kids.

Another meaningful provision deals with Section 179 expensing, which had been repeatedly extended over the past 12 years.  This package permanently extends the small business expensing limitation, helping farmers and small businesses more quickly recover the cost of major equipment purchases by allowing them to deduct, up to $500,000, the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and software purchased or financed during the tax year.

Morgan Griffith

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