Letter Supporting Scott Garrett to Lead Export-Import Bank

Heritage Action sent the following letter in support of former Rep. Scott Garrett’s nomination to lead the Export-Import Bank to Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo:

October 27, 2017

Dear Chairman Crapo:

We urge you and your fellow committee members to support the nomination of former Representative Scott Garrett (PN 673) to serve as President of the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) of the United States. To be clear, we do not believe the Ex-Im Bank needs additional board members; however, if the Trump administration insists on refilling the board then the committee should confirm a reform-oriented leader, and Mr. Garrett is perfect for that job.

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Key Vote Looming if Green Energy Subsidies Added to FAA Bill

 

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 98-0 to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 636, the vehicle for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act. Heritage Action will key vote against the bill if subsidies for fuel cells, geothermal and biomass are included.  Those subsidies — which were little more than corporate welfare — are expired and were not included in last December’s tax extenders package.  

In a letter sent to Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) 33% and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) 12% earlier this week, Heritage Action and 33 conservative organizations warned against including these provisions in the FAA bill:

Congress considered the matter of expiring tax provisions less than 4 months ago. The $680 billion package signed into law in December made some of these items permanent and allowed more than two dozen others to expire at the end of this past year, laying the groundwork for comprehensive tax reform. The $1.4 billion in expiring tax provisions currently under consideration — pertaining to wind power, geothermal heat pumps, fuel cell facilities and combined heat and power (CHP) properties — are a distortion of the tax laws for special interests in the renewable energy industry and were wisely left out of this package.

It should also be noted that Congress extended significantly favorable tax treatment to renewable energy in omnibus appropriation legislation that accompanied the aforementioned tax extender package. This bill included 5-year extensions of the main federal provisions for renewables, the wind production tax credit (PTC) and the solar investment tax credit (ITC), at a cost of $23.8 billion over the next decade.

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Conservatives to Ryan and McConnell: No Obamacare Bailout

Today, conservative leaders sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to continue the policy contained in recent appropriations bills restricting the use of Obamacare’s “Risk Corridor” program:

As you begin negotiations over legislation to continue government funding past December 11, 2015, we the undersigned individuals and organizations urge you to continue the policy contained in recent appropriations bills restricting the use of Obamacare’s “Risk Corridor” program.

Many of us signed on to a letter last year describing the Risk Corridor program (Sec. 1342 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare”) in detail and outlining why we believed it was important to restrict its ability to serve as a “taxpayer bailout” for Obamacare participating insurance companies. Fortunately, Congress was able to insert such language into the last omnibus appropriations act (specifically Division G, Title II, Sec. 227 of P.L. 113-235).

In last year’s letter, we pointed out that the experience of insurers in the new exchanges would likely lead to them demanding much more in returns from the program than they were putting into it. That prediction has turned out to be true. On October 1, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that they would only be able to pay out $362 million of the requested $2.9 billion, or just 12.6%, of funds that Obamacare-participating insurers had requested. Absent the Sec. 227 language mentioned above, HHS may very well have simply filtered the difference of $2.538 billion from hardworking taxpayers to bailout insurers for their poor business decisions.

You can read the full letter here.

 

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Coming Soon: No Child Left Behind Reauthorization

According to reports, lawmakers have reached an agreement to reauthorize the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law for four years.  In December 2014, The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke put forward four crucial benchmarks for any NCLB overhaul:

  • enable states to completely opt out of the programs that fall under No Child Left Behind;
  • eliminate programs and reduce spending;
  • eliminate all the burdensome federal mandates; and,
  • provide states the option of full Title 1 portability.

Those reports, confirmed by “a GOP aide who participated in the negotiations,” suggest the pre-conferenced agreement falls short on each and every requirement.  Additionally, Education Week reports the House’s testing opt-out language – a priority for many conservative lawmakers – was abandoned:

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Bill Lifting Crude Oil Export Ban Contains $500 Million Earmark for Labor Unions

On Friday, the House is scheduled to vote on H.R. 702, a bill which would lift the decades-old embargo on exporting crude oil.  Under current law, companies must refine crude oil domestically before they are allowed to export the resulting petroleum products.  The policy changes made in H.R. 702 are commendable, but a last minute addition to the bill has entangled good policy in corporate welfare and a $500 million labor union buyoff.

According to the Section-by-Section summary provided by the House Rules Committee, a newly added section would “increase the annual operating stipend for the 60 ship Maritime Security Fleet.”  The Maritime Security Program (MSP) was established in 1996 and currently provides contract payments of $3.1 million a year to vessels participating in the program.  The program was reauthorized for ten years on January 2, 2013.  Last week, 270 Representatives voted for the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735), which included the following language:

SEC. 3504. PAYMENT FOR MARITIME SECURITY FLEET VESSELS. (a) PER-VESSEL AUTHORIZATION.—Notwithstanding section 53106(a)(1)(C) of title 46, United States Code, and subject to the availability of appropriations, there is authorized to be paid to each contractor for an operating agreement (as those terms are used in that section) for fiscal year 2016, $3,500,000 for each vessel that is covered by the operating agreement. (emphasis added)

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