Legislative Update for Week Ending December 22, 2017

Legislative Update for Week Ending December 22, 2017

This week, lawmakers in the House and Senate passed legislation to overhaul the tax code. In addition, The Senior Citizens League (TSC) endorsed one new House resolution, and several key bills gained support in Congress.

Tax Reform Signed into Law

Early Wednesday morning, with a vote of 51-48, lawmakers in the Senate passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Those in the House took it up later on Wednesday, and they passed it along party lines with a vote of 224-201. At the time of writing this week’s legislative update, President Donald Trump had not yet signed it into law, but that is expected to occur in the very near future.

As was mentioned in last week’s legislative update, TSCL has been monitoring the movement of the $1.5 trillion Tax Cuts and Jobs Act closely since it will impact older Americans in several ways. It will repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which will likely make health insurance unaffordable for millions who are not yet eligible for Medicare. It will also index the individual tax brackets and the standard deduction to the slowly-growing “chained” Consumer Price Index (CPI), which will result in tax increases for most individuals over time since they will hit higher tax brackets faster than they would under current law.

In addition, due to the massive cost of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, its passage will trigger $25 billion in automatic spending cuts to Medicare. Other critical programs for seniors like Meals on Wheels will see their budgets slashed, and lawmakers have already begun discussing plans to reform Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid next year in an attempt to reduce the deficit that the tax bill will create.

In the months ahead, TSCL will monitor the implementation of the law closely, and we will continue to advocate for policies that will improve the health and financial security of older Americans. We will also continue to oppose proposals that would reform Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid irresponsibly, by cutting earned benefits. For updates, visit the Legislative News section of our website, or follow TSCL on Facebook and Twitter.

TSCL Endorses New House Resolution

This week, TSCL endorsed a new House resolution (H. Res. 659) that would create a point of order against legislation that would cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits. If approved by the House, the resolution would require a two-thirds majority vote to consider any bill, joint resolution, amendment, or conference report that would reduce earned benefits.

In a letter of endorsement to the bill’s sponsor, Art Cooper – Chairman of TSCL’s Board of Trustees – wrote: “As you know, millions of older Americans are concerned about the threats to their earned benefits that are currently being proposed under the guise of ‘entitlement reform’ … The Senior Citizens League lends its enthusiastic support to H. Res. 659, which we believe would go a long way in protecting the retirement security older Americans have earned and deserve.”

The Senior Citizens League thanks Congressman Rick Nolan (MN-8) for introducing this important new resolution in the House of Representatives, and we look forward to working with his office in the months ahead to help build support for it. For more information about H. Res. 659, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website.

Key Bills Gain Support

Over the past week, several bills endorsed by TSCL have gained support. The Social Security Fairness Act of 2017 (H.R. 1205) gained three new cosponsors in Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-8), Jeff Denham (CA-10), and Clay Higgins (LA-3), bringing the cosponsor total to 167. If signed into law, H.R. 1205 would repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) – two Social Security provisions that reduce the earned benefits of millions of public servants each year.

In addition, the CPI-E Act of 2017 (H.R.1251) gained one new cosponsor in Representative Charlie Crist (FL-13), bringing the cosponsor total up to forty-eight. If signed into law, H.R. 1251 would base cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security benefits on the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) – a more accurate measure of inflation for older Americans.

Finally, the CPI for Seniors Act of 2017 (H.R. 2016) gained one new cosponsor in Dr. Phil Roe (TN-1), bringing the bipartisan cosponsor total up to four.  If signed into law, H.R. 2016 would mandate the monthly formulation and publication of a consumer price index specifically for senior citizens for the purpose of establishing a more accurate Social Security COLA.

TSCL enthusiastically supports H.R. 1205, H.R. 1251, and H.R. 2016, and we were pleased to see support grow for them this week. For more information on these or other bills that have been endorsed by TSCL, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website.