At the start of 2016, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) laid out an ambitious, pro-growth agenda that included:
- Tax reforms to boost investment and job creation;
- Welfare reforms to help more people join the workforce and achieve the American Dream;
- Health reforms to truly make health care more affordable and accessible;
- Trade expansion plus tough enforcement to open more foreign markets to American goods and services;
- Reforms to strengthen Medicare and Social Security for the long term; and
- Government reforms to boost efficiency and effectiveness instead of stifling jobs and higher wages.
Ways and Means Republicans have been working throughout the year to deliver on these priorities. Here’s a look at some of our actions in the first half of 2016:
1. Tax reforms to boost investment and job creation: America’s tax code is broken beyond repair, and it’s a major reason why our economy is not realizing its full potential. During the first half of 2016, our Committee worked to develop a detailed Blueprint for bold, pro-growth tax reform.
On June 24, the Tax Reform Tax Force led by Ways and Means Republicans unveiled “A Better Way for Tax Reform.” This bold Blueprint delivers a 21st century tax code that is built for growth – the growth of families’ paychecks, the growth of American businesses, and the growth of our nation’s economy. Our Blueprint also provides unprecedented simplicity and fairness for taxpayers, and it redesigns the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) into an agency with a singular focus: Service First.
2. Welfare reforms to help more people join the workforce and achieve the American Dream: With an estimated 46 million Americans currently living in poverty, it’s clear that our nation’s welfare system is not delivering results for the people and families who need it most. This is why Ways and Means Republicans – through our work on the Speaker’s Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility Task Force – have developed a number of proposals to help more Americans climb out of poverty and up the economic ladder. Released on June 7, our “Better Way to Fight Poverty” attacks poverty at its roots to help ensure that every American has an opportunity to achieve their own American Dream.
In addition to our efforts on this Task Force, our Committee passed a number of fiscally responsible reforms to reduce poverty, empower local communities, protect children, strengthen families, and provide people with better opportunities to move from welfare to work. These include:
- H.R. 5170 – Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act
- H.R. 2990 – Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act
- H.R. 2966 – Reducing Poverty through Employment Act
- H.R. 5169 – What Works to Move Welfare Recipients into Jobs Act
- H.R. 5456 – Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016
3. Health reforms to truly make health care more affordable and accessible: Obamacare – officially known as the Affordable Care Act – has been one broken promise after another – starting with the promise of its very title: “Affordable.” Throughout the year, Ways and Means Republicans worked on the Health Care Reform Task Force to develop a plan to repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-focused health care solutions.
On June 22, we unveiled “A Better Way to Fix Health Care.” Since Obamacare’s enactment, this proposal represents the first official House Republican roadmap to repeal the law and offer every American access to the quality, affordable health care they deserve.
Along with the release of our “Better Way” health care proposal, our Committee passed numerous bills to make our health care system work better for the American people. These include:
- H.R. 5447 – Small Business Health Care Relief Act
- H.R. 5445 – Health Care Security Act of 2016
- H.R. 3590 – Halt Tax Increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act
- H.R. 1270 – Restoring Access to Medication and Improving Health Savings Act of 2016
4. Trade expansion plus tough enforcement to open more foreign markets to American goods and services: International trade creates opportunity and jobs in America – but we have a responsibility to ensure that our trade deals are strictly enforced so that America competes on a level playing field. That is why our Committee championed legislation that became law in 2016 to enhance American competitiveness by modernizing and expanding our trade enforcement tools. In addition, our Committee created a process to reduce tariffs – essentially taxes – on products needed by American manufacturers and consumers. Both of these bills were approved by the Committee and the House, and were signed into law this year:
- H.R. 644 – Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (Signed into law February 24, 2016)
- H.R. 4923 – American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016 (Signed into law May 20, 2016)
5. Reforms to strengthen Medicare and Social Security for the long term: Our Committee is working on much-needed reforms that will improve Medicare and Social Security and also ensure that these programs will continue to be there for future generations.
Among other important bills to improve Medicare, legislation we passed in 2016 includes:
- H.R. 5659 – Expanding Seniors Receiving Dialysis Choice Act of 2016
- H.R. 5713 – Sustaining Healthcare Integrity and Fair Treatment Act of 2016
- H.R. 5273 – Helping Hospitals Improve Patient Care Act of 2016
Additionally, the Committee is working to address Social Security’s solvency challenges. On June 22, the Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing on the 2016 Social Security Trustees Report. At the hearing, Ways and Means Republicans made it clear that Social Security’s long-term financing is unsustainable and action to preserve and strengthen Social Security needs to begin now so that this important program is there for future generations.
6. Government reforms to boost efficiency and effectiveness instead of stifling jobs and higher wages: Ways and Means Republicans are taking important steps to hold the federal government accountable to the American people. Throughout the year, we have conducted robust oversight of the Obama Administration, leading several investigations and passing numerous bills to protect taxpayers from IRS abuse and safeguard Americans from identity theft. These bills include:
- H.R. 3724 – Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act of 2015
- H.R. 4885 – IRS Oversight While Eliminating Spending (OWES) Act of 2016
- H.R. 5523 – Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act
- H.R. 5053 – Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act
- H.R. 5320 – Social Security Must Avert Identity Loss (MAIL) Act of 2016
- H.R. 3209 – Recovering Missing Children Act
- H.R. 3832 – Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Prevention Act
In the weeks and months ahead, our Committee will continue to take action on the policies and issues that matter the most to the American people.