Tax reform 

The House passed the bipartisan America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act (H.R. 636) by a 272-142 margin. Thirty-three democrats voted in favor of the bill, which would make permanent the 2014 Sec. 179 expensing level of $500,000 on purchases up to $2 million, and index it for inflation. The limit fell to $25,000 on Jan. 1 of this year, and was only retroactively returned to $500,000 for 2014 in December. While President Obama supports raising the Sec. 179 limit, he threatened to veto the House bill because it doesn’t offset the estimated $77 billion cost of the permanent extension. AMT joined on a letter to Congress signed by 175 business groups supporting passage of H.R. 636.

Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) introduced bipartisan legislation to address the Highway Trust Fund solvency issue and spur new infrastructure projects. The Infrastructure 2.0 Act (H.R. 625) establishes deemed repatriation at an 8.75 percent tax rate for existing overseas earnings. According to Delaney’s office, this produces enough revenue to provide an additional $120 billon to the Highway Trust Fund (enough for six years of solvency at increased levels), as well as funding for the creation of a new $50 billion dollar American Infrastructure Fund, which will be leveraged to finance $750 billion in new infrastructure projects. The bill also includes a trigger for broader international tax reform and establishes a commission for long-term Highway Trust Fund solvency. 

ExIm Bank reauthorization 

A bill to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank for five years was introduced in the House by Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN). The Reform Exports and Expand the American Economy Act (H.R.  597) has attracted 58 Republican co-sponsors. Congress must reauthorize ExIm before June 30 or it will shut down. No companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate, though most ExIm watchers believe the Senate has the votes to reauthorize the bank if the leadership allows a bill to be considered on the floor. Hundreds of ExIm supporters descended on Washington last month to meet with their elected officials to urge reauthorization of the Bank’s Charter.

Immigration reform

Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Immigration Innovation “I-Squared” Act of 2015 (S. 153).  The bipartisan legislation would increase the annual cap on the number of H-1B visas from 65,000 to 115,000, and possibly even up to 195,000 per year based on demand. In 2014, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services received roughly 172,500 applications for only 65,000 new H-1Bs, taking about a week for the available visa quotient to be filled. AMT sent a letter of support to each of the bill’s sponsors. 

Trade Promotion Authority

President Obama asked Congress to give him Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) during his State of the Union message in January. Currently, the administration is negotiating two new major trade agreements, one with 11 Pacific Rim countries, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and one with the European Union, known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). A vocal bipartisan group of members is demanding that strict enforceable prohibitions against foreign currency manipulation be included in the TPA legislation or members won’t support the deal. House Ways & Means Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) are expected to introduce TPA legislation soon that will not include language on currency manipulation.

AMT’s Manufacturing Mandate underscores the importance of enacting legislation that increases the global competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers. Join the association in promoting policy that strengthens our industry. Become a manufacturing advocate, and contact your elected officials today.