The U.S. House of Representatives passed the conference report of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by a vote of 227-203. The U.S. Senate will now begin debate and are expected to vote on passage.
The conference committee negotiated for several days to agree on a package that includes a corporate tax rate of 21 percent starting in 2018, a repeal of alternative minimum tax for corporations and doubles the exemption levels for the estate tax. The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) was very active in ensuring the tax-exempt status of private activity bonds stayed intact for state and local infrastructure projects by talking directly with members of Congress and sending letters to conferees. The final package also keeps whole percentage depletion, the LIFO accounting method and Like-Kind Exchanges for real estate.
Also, Congress continues to address the impending deadline to fund the federal government. Lawmakers are expected to include $1.4 billion to address all current damages to federal highways as part of an $81 billion spending package for hurricane and wildfire relief efforts in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Congress will attach this relief package with infrastructure investment to the stopgap funding bill that would fund the federal government and prevent a shutdown on Dec. 22. House Republicans expect to send their bill to the Senate mid-week, where changes are likely to be made and then kicked back to the House for final passage.
Congress previously prevented a government shutdown by clearing a two-week continuing resolution on Dec. 7, that extended current spending levels until Friday.
If this additional short-term bill is passed, Congress is expected to look at a long-term bill with higher budget caps so that appropriators can allow the federal government to spend the $1 billion for highways, bridges and airports called for in the FAST Act. In these changes to government spending for FY2018, NSSGA is also supporting an increase to the cap for Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) from $4.50 to $8.50.