Pat Soldano welcomed supporters to the call and provided an overview of the topics to be discussed: the status of the November Election, potential tax policy opportunities, and additional COVID-19 relief legislation as well as an update on the activities of Policy and Taxation Group and Family Enterprise USA.
First, Frank Luntz (FILuntz, Inc) provided an update on the 2020 Election. According to Frank, there is a growing likelihood that President Trump will lose in November and that Democrats will also take control of the Senate. He highlighted the top 5 most vulnerable Senate races, which are mostly Republican seats.
With the expected loss of Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), Democrats would only need to pick-up four Senate seats in a Biden Administration to effectively give them the majority, as a Vice-President Harris would be the tie-breaking vote. Moreover, if Democrats are able to pick-up five seats, they could attempt to change the Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster and push forward the Biden Administration’s agenda, which would pose a real threat to our efforts on estate tax repeal/rate reduction. Frank also discussed the various economic and tax proposals that could be considered under a Democrat held Senate.
Russ Sullivan (Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, Schreck) then discussed what to expect after the November Election. From his perspective, Congress will reconvene for five weeks and spend most of its time on internal caucus elections for leadership positions and committee assignments. According to Russ, Congress will likely pass an intelligence authorization bill and another short-term government funding bill. He also suggested that if Congress passes another COVID-19 relief package (discussed in greater detail below), there are several tax provisions in play, including:
- A tax credit for COVID-19-related cleaning expense;
- An expanded Work Opportunity Tax Credit;
- Accelerating the ability of taxpayers to claim a portion of the General Business Tax Credit in 2020, despite the lack of tax liability;
- Tax incentives for real estate; and
- Allowing taxpayers to deduct expenses paid with forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan proceeds
Finally, Brandon Román (Squire Patton Boggs) discussed the prognosis for additional COVID-19 relief legislation this Congress. After providing an overview of the various proposals released following the enactment of the CARES Act earlier this year (e.g., HEROES Act by House Democrats and HEALS Act by Senate Republicans), he then discussed the current state of play of the ongoing negotiations. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met last week for approximately an hour and a half – the first in-person meeting between the two since August – in an effort to reach agreement on COVID-19 relief legislation before the Congress adjourned for the November Election. Though both sides suggested that progress had been made, they were ultimately unable to reach agreement, which resulted in House Democrats passing on a partisan basis their updated $2.2 trillon version of the HEROES Act. By way of reminder, the Trump Administration has previously indicated that it could support a package of up to $1.5 trillion, while Senate Republicans’ most recent proposal totaled approximately $300 billion. Notably, since our meeting, President Trump has called for his advisors to stop negotiations on another COVID-19 relief package until after the November Election, confirming our assessment that this will be a lame duck priority.
To conclude, Pat again thanked supporters for their continued engagement and reminded them of the final Supporters Meetings of the year, which is scheduled for November 9.