House lays out priorities for summer

Republican leadership plans to tackle CFTC reauthorization, tax provisions, Highway Trust Fund fix, and appropriations bills during summer stretch.

The House Republican leadership has laid out an ambitious agenda for June, including items of importance to agriculture including the agricultural appropriations bill, Commodity Futures Trading Commission reauthorization, tax provisions and a fix for the Highway Trust fund.

In a memo to House Republicans, Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) explained that the during the week of June 9 the House will tackle additional components of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) tax reform proposal.

Of importance to agriculture is a bill that would permanently extent Section 179 expensing options for capital purchases at 2013 levels. The America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014 (H.R. 4457), authored by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R., Ohio) allows small businesses to expense up to $500,000 of investment in new equipment and property per year, with the deduction phased out for investments exceeding $2 million, both of which are indexed for inflation.

McCarthy’s memo said he also expects the full House to take up the appropriations bills for agriculture; transportation, housing and urban development and defense.

Another new ticket on the agenda includes reauthorization for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The last reauthorization of the CFTC occurred in 2008, before the height of the financial crisis and prior to the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act.  Since then, the CFTC has been granted broad new authorities to supervise the futures and swaps markets. 

The memo stated that many of the CFTC’s new rules have negatively impacted end-users, such as farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, small businesses, and utilities, by making it more difficult and costly to manage risks associated with their businesses. 

In April the bipartisan Customer Protection and End User Relief Act (H.R. 4413) easily passed out of committee. McCarthy said the bill “would provide meaningful relief from overly-burdensome requirements from the CFTC at a time when we need less government involvement in our businesses,” he said. 

In addition, the bill would improve the operations of the CFTC and would provide important safeguards in our futures markets to better protect market participants and preserve their ability to effectively manage risk.

Earlier in the week the Senate approved three new CFTC commissioners. House Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas (R., Okla.) said the bill could provide a starting point for the new commissioners as they come on board to institute effective new measures to improve the agency.

Due to lower anticipated revenues into the Highway Trust Fund, the fund will require an additional transfer of funds prior to the August work period. The House plans to fund an offset to pay for the transfer by a modified six day postal delivery which has been proposed by the Administration.

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