Washington Snapshot

Washington Snapshot: The top news stories in Washington this week, including the push for a bipartisan infrastructure package out of Congress.

Friday, May 21, 2021 - 11:30 am EDT
Stephanie Powers

In This Week's Edition of Snapshot...

News IconNews from the Council

Don't forget to register for our Leading Together 2021 pre-conference session, Pushing the Policy Envelope: Foundations Acting in a Pivotal Time. This session was designed with foundation policy staff in mind. Join us to hear from thought leaders, foundation executives, and advocates who are working at the forefront of social change and challenging existing policies that maintain the status quo.

Executive & Regulatory News IconFEMA Hosts Webinar on COVID-19 Vaccine

On May 25 from 2:00-3:00 PM ET, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will host a national webinar about the policy that supports vaccine participation throughout communities. FEMA and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) representatives will share information about the availability of funds to assist communities in their efforts to educate the public on vaccine safety and availability. Register here.

Congress IconCongress Continues to Discuss Big Infrastructure Deal

With the president urging a deal on infrastructure, lawmakers in both the House and Senate held hearings on how to finance his ambitious plan. Both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee discussed a variety of revenue raisers, including private-public partnerships, user fees, and tax increases. Leadership in both committees stressed the importance of bipartisanship, holding up Build America Bonds as an example of the two parties collaborating on funding infrastructure investments in the past.

There is some hope for a bipartisan infrastructure deal. Both parties have expressed support for refurbishing the country’s crumbling roads and highways, dissolving some of the structural barriers Tribal governments face in accessing infrastructure investments, and expanding broadband access to rural areas. However, Democrats and Republicans are still far apart.

This week, the Department of Treasury released a new report: The American Families Plan Tax Compliance Agenda describes several initiatives the Administration has proposed to close the “tax gap,” including enforcement strategies, reporting rules on cryptocurrency, and additional funding for the Internal Revenue Service to address tax evasion. The American Families Plan is the Administration’s so-called human infrastructure proposal.

Congress IconHouse Republicans Create Task Forces

House Republicans introduced seven new task forces last month in anticipation of winning back the majority in 2023. (Historically, the President's party tends to lose seats in mid-term elections, and the House Democrats currently have a narrow majority.) The task forces will produce policy positions for House Republicans ahead of the 2022 elections. The task forces include jobs and the economy, chaired by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC); the future of American freedoms, chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH); and energy, climate, and conservation, chaired by Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), among others.

State Policy IconHappening in the States

Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.

National Council of Nonprofits logo

Charitable Giving Incentives Under Reconsideration

Lawmakers in Colorado and North Carolina are considering diametrically opposite approaches to charitable giving incentives. Colorado legislation introduced last week seeks to cap itemized deductions, including charitable deductions, on state tax returns. The bill would limit itemized deductions to $30,000 for individuals and $60,000 for couples for taxpayers with incomes over $400,000. The bill is part of a package that would purportedly raise $400 million to be used for spending programs aimed to help lower-income families and small businesses, like the state Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. However, the Colorado Nonprofit Association explains that “exempting charitable giving from the itemized cap … would prevent unintended consequences for how Coloradans are served by nonprofits and residents," and taxpayers “shouldn’t have to choose between tax credits for working families and reduced incentives for wealthy taxpayers to give back to the community.”

In North Carolina, a measure would allow state taxpayers who use the federal universal charitable deduction to get the full benefit of these tax deductions on their state taxes in 2021. If enacted, individuals who itemize their deductions and contribute more than 60% of their adjusted gross income to charitable nonprofits could also deduct those additional funds on their state tax forms. The North Carolina Senate passed a similar bill earlier this month, and advocates in the state believe there is a good chance that one of these bills will become law later this year.

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