News Releases

In statement for initial conference committee meeting, Senator Murray takes reckless GOP tax bill to task, citing bill’s health care sabotage, economic burden on middle class families, and rushed, partisan process

In follow-up letter to nonpartisan analysts, Senator Murray asks for clarity on GOP tax bill’s anti-middle class provisions and how it would affect families in Washington state and across the country

ICYMI: “Senate Republicans have once again made it clear that their highest priority is handing more tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations”

The Columbian: “Murray, Cantwell on conference committee for tax legislation”

(Washington, D.C.) – Citing the devastating impact of the Republican tax plan on middle class families in Washington state and around the country, today Senator Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate health committee and one of seven Senate Democrats appointed to the conference committee to negotiate the final legislation, urged Republicans on the committee to finally reverse course on their partisan proposal and begin working with Democrats on a plan to help working people. Additionally, Senator Murray called on Republican leaders to accept the will of the people in Alabama and halt their attempt to jam through a tax plan before Senator-elect Doug Jones is seated.

In remarks submitted for the record at the conference committee’s first session, Senator Murray highlighted many concerns with the Republican tax plan, writing:

“This has been a sham partisan process—a brazen partisan attempt to jam through legislation that would devastate our economy with as little scrutiny or debate as possible—and this dog-and-pony show of regular order today isn’t fooling anyone.  Because let’s be very clear about what this tax plan would do—it’s pretty simple. The Republican tax plan would be a massive giveaway to the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations. It would raise taxes on the middle class. It would increase health premiums for millions of patients. It would open up the pristine Arctic Refuge to drilling. It would blast a massive hole in our deficit—and put Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in grave danger.”

Senator Murray also cautioned her colleagues that several health care proposals being discussed in tandem with the GOP tax plan, including the Murray-Alexander plan that would lower insurance premiums and stabilize insurance markets, would not undo the economic damage and health care sabotage caused by their tax bill:

“The health care stabilization bill I worked on with Chairman Alexander and Senator Collins’ reinsurance bill are both good bills that would help push back against President Trump’s sabotage of health care, but they won’t stop the premium increases, coverage losses, and chaos that the Republican tax bill would cause—and that’s assuming they could even pass through the Republican House. So I urge my Republican colleagues to take a step back here, and stop this sham process while they still have a chance.”

(Read Senator Murray’s full remarks submitted for the record HERE.)

Additionally, Senator Murray posed several questions to the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) to clarify the specific impact of several of the bill’s provisions on working people. In a letter to Chief of Staff Thomas Barthold following the committee session, Senator Murray cited the exclusion of Democrats from the final process of drafting the conference committee legislation and requested information to confirm JCT’s analysis that several provisions in the Republican plan would worsen economic and health outcomes for many middle class families.

Read the full text of Senator Murray’s letter below.

 

December 13, 2017

  

Mr. Thomas Barthold

Chief of Staff

Joint Committee on Taxation

502 Ford House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Mr. Barthold:

Since I am unable to attend the Conference Committee meeting on H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)” on Wednesday, I am submitting the questions I would have asked you if I were in attendance, as well as a few other critically important questions. However, I must first note that these questions are based on the tax bills that were jammed through the House and then the Senate at breakneck speed.  While I would prefer to tailor my questions to the actual tax bill that has been negotiated for this Conference Committee, my Democrat colleagues and I were not consulted nor invited to participate in those conversations.  Moreover, we have not seen the bill resulting from those negotiations, so this Conference Committee meeting seems to be more proof that this process was never intended to follow traditional order.    

  1. Can you confirm that if the House recedes to the Senate on a policy that repeals the individual coverage requirement, CBO estimates this policy would result in 13 million fewer Americans with health insurance coverage by 2027 and that premiums would be10 percent higher in most of the next ten years?
  2. If the Senate recedes to the House on the change to the 529 college savings plans redefining eligible beneficiaries, which we know were included to undermine women’s health and rights, will families be able to open college savings accounts any earlier than they are able to under current law?
  3. How many children live in families who will be affected by a new provision in this bill requiring the filer to have a Social Security number to claim the Child Tax Credit under both the House bill and the Senate amendment? How much revenue did filers with Individual Tax Identification Numbers contribute to the Federal Treasury? How is taking away this critical anti-poverty tool incentivizing these filers or helping children from immigrant families out of poverty? 
  4. Can you confirm that if the Senate recedes to the House on higher education tax provisions, the combined effect of changes to the tax credits, student loan interest deduction, employer-provided educational assistance, and tuition waivers would mean that students who enroll in higher education and training would see a collective tax increase of nearly $65 billion from 2018-2027?
  5. Can you confirm that if the Senate recedes to the House on changes to the Lifetime Learning tax credit, student loan interest deduction, and employer-provided educational assistance provisions, it would raise the tax liability of millions of graduate students nationwide
  6. According to estimates prepared by your office, ending the state and local tax deduction (SALT) will increase the effective tax rate for millions of people across the country, including about a third of those making between $50,000-$75,000 per year, and half of taxpayers making between $75,000- $100,000. As states, cities, and municipalities have told Members of Congress, much of these tax savings go to public education, public health care, and public infrastructure. As a result of the SALT elimination, can the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirm whether it anticipates a reduction in state and local spending on public education, public health care, and public infrastructure?
  7. Can you confirm that if the House recedes to the Senate on the sunset of the individual tax provisions, corporations would receive a massive permanent tax cut (from 35 to 20 percent tax rate), while certain individuals will only receive modest temporary tax relief?
  8. Can you confirm that your office found that the tax bills passed by the House and the Senate would not generate enough economic growth to pay for their $1.4 trillion in tax cuts? 
  9. Did the Joint Committee on Taxation in fact find that $1 trillion would be added to the deficit over the next decade for the bill that passed each chamber?
  10. Can you confirm that under the statutory Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) Act, the budgetary effects of the Republican tax package, which would raise deficits by up to $1.5 trillion over 10 years, would go onto the statutory PAYGO scorecards and be subject to sequestration procedures, including automatic cuts in Medicare and other, non-exempt mandatory spending? Can you confirm, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that enacting the Republican tax package would result in a sequestration order under statutory PAYGO of up to $136 billion in 2018 alone, resulting in $25 billion of cuts to Medicare and tens of billions of dollars in cuts to other programs? Can you confirm that the size of the cuts to programs other than Medicare would mean the zeroing out of remaining funding in 2018 for entire programs, including the Crime Victims Fund, the Social Services Block Grant, and the Public Health and Prevention Fund? Can you confirm the distribution of the cuts from these programs would disproportionately hit middle- and lower-income families?   
  11. When will the Joint Committee on Taxation’s score and analysis on the bill that Republicans are negotiating in this conference (without the input of the Democrats on this Conference Committee) be available? 

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter.  I would appreciate your responses at your earliest convenience, especially considering that we may be voting as early as next week on yet another tax bill that we have not seen and do not have sufficient time to study.  If you have any questions, or would like to further discuss compliance with this request, please contact Kendra Isaacson or Zach Mallove on my staff at (202) 224-6572 or (202) 224-1464, respectively.

Sincerely,