Neal Opening Statement at Markup of Tax Legislation
(As prepared for delivery)
Good morning and welcome. Today the Committee has the historic opportunity to consider a package of bills that will accomplish a great deal of good, especially for working adults with low incomes, for families struggling to afford the child care that allows them to work, and for LGBTQ Americans who have waited too long for equal treatment under the tax code. We will also take up the extension of certain expiring tax provisions, providing certainty to taxpayers and businesses that rely on those incentives.
While by some measures our economy is doing well, a recent Federal Reserve report revealed that many hard-working Americans aren’t getting by financially. The report found that:
- 39 percent of U.S. adults wouldn’t be able to cover an unexpected expense of $400 without borrowing the money or selling possessions;
- 17 percent of adults can’t pay all their current monthly bills in full; and
- A quarter of adults skipped necessary medical care last year because they couldn’t afford it.
When so many Americans are left behind, the work of this committee is not done.
The wealthiest members of our society are benefitting handsomely from economic growth—but many of the other families find themselves stuck in place or slipping behind. For decades, workers’ paychecks have been flat or growing very slowly. And today we see income inequality rising at an alarming pace, while the cost of all the unavoidable expenses of middle-class life are rising: housing, higher education, child care, health care.
In 2017, the Republicans passed a tax law that accelerated these trends by enacting a massive tax cut for large corporations and high-income individuals, while offering little support for less prosperous families.
Today, we will take steps to rectify these misguided choices. The package of bills before us this morning aims to provide meaningful support for those who are working hard but struggling to keep up.
I am extremely proud to advance the Economic Mobility Act of 2019 today. This legislation expands the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless workers; expands refundability of the child tax credit so that more low-income families can benefit and extends the program to cover qualifying families in Puerto Rico. It also makes the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit fairer and available to more families who need it.
We will also consider the Child Care Quality and Access Act of 2019. Child care costs are crippling many middle-income families, and accessing affordable, high-quality child care can be a significant obstacle for many parents who want to work, or who want to work more. When families can’t secure good care, parents are often forced to take lower-paying jobs or drop out of the workforce altogether. Today, we will take an important step in making sure that working families have access to quality child care—a proven strategy to increase workforce participation and reduce child poverty.
We will also consider the Promoting Respect for Individuals’ Dignity and Equality Act—the PRIDE Act. Fifty years after Stonewall, this legislation clarifies that all federal tax provisions respecting marriage will apply to legally married same-sex couples in the same manner as other married couples.
Finally, we will also consider the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act, which provides needed certainty for businesses making use of tax provisions that expired in 2017 and 2018, as well as some set to expire this year. I’ve long championed two of these provisions in particular – the New Market Tax Credit and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. The legislation also provides better and more dependable support for victims of federally-declared disasters.
As we begin today’s work, I do want to make a point of expressing the majority’s commitment to approaching the tax extenders in a fiscally responsible manner. This is in sharp contrast to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, legislation that has not paid for itself, despite assurances from its supporters. During the first year that the TCJA Act was in effect, even with a growing economy, federal receipts dropped 2.8 percent, and in the first eight months of the current fiscal year, the U.S. budget deficit grew 39 percent.
I know that fiscal responsibility is a keen point of concern for many of our colleagues and I appreciate all of your vigilance on this matter. And I would like to yield to Mr. Schneider on this particular topic?
With that, I want to thank the members of this committee who have worked so hard on these bills. Today’s work is, in many cases, the culmination of years of commitment.
And will now yield to the Ranking Member, Mr. Brady for the purposes of an opening statement.