Senate GOP Leadership Cancels August Recess

Senate Republican leadership has canceled the chamber’s August recess this year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced on June 5 that the Senate will remain in session during August 2018.

“Senators should expect to remain in session in August to pass legislation, including appropriations bills, and to make additional progress on the president’s nominees,” McConnell said in a June 5 statement. While speaking to reporters on June 5, McConnell outlined the Senate’s short-term legislative business plan but did not mention the possibility of tax legislation.

Senate Democrats welcome the extended August session, according to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. “We Democrats welcome this additional time,” Schumer told reporters on June 5. Senate Democrats want to use the time to focus on health care, he said.

Phase Two Tax Cuts

At this time, it remains unclear whether the Senate will take up the anticipated House measure this summer that would, among other things, make permanent certain individual tax cuts. Individual tax rates were lowered temporarily through 2025 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) (P.L. 115-97) enacted last December.

The White House has said that the House’s “phase two” tax cuts package will be unveiled sometime in July. Additionally, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has predicted that the House will approve the measure before midterm elections in November.

Senate Uphill Battle

However, a second round of Republican tax cuts likely faces an uphill battle in the Senate. The next tax reform measure will need Democratic support to reach the requisite 60 votes in the Senate. Currently, Republicans occupy only 51 seats.

“Given that the new tax law was designed to provide relief to hard-working, middle-class families, making the tax cuts permanent would be a welcome step,” a spokesperson for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah told Wolters Kluwer. “Chairman Hatch advocated for this during the tax reform debate and will continue to work with his colleagues to find a viable path and timing to achieve this goal.”

By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News Staff

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