Both the House and the Senate have now passed companion tax reform legislation, but there are differences between the two versions that must be ironed out before the President can sign tax reform legislation into law.
Congressional leaders are hoping to complete work on tax reform before the end of the year, and the quickest way to accomplish that feat is reconciling the differences between the two bills through the conference committee process.
A conference committee is composed of members from both the House and the Senate, who are appointed by leadership within both parties. The chosen representatives are tasked with negotiating amongst one another until they can settle on reporting out one bill that will be voted on within both of chambers of Congress.
Before leadership can appoint members to the conference committee, that chamber within the legislature must vote to go to conference.
The House voted late on December 4 to go to conference with the Senate, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have already named their appointees.
The Senate narrowly passed a vote to go to conference December 6. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have also appointed Senators to the conference committee.
House of Representatives
Republican Representatives: Kevin Brady (Tex.-8), Peter Roskam (Ill.-6), Diane Black (Tenn.-6), Greg Walden (Ore.-2), Kristi Noem (S.D.), Rob Bishap (Utah-1), Don Young (Alaska), and John Shimkus (Ill.-15).
Democratic Representatives: Richard Neal (Mass.-1), Sandy Levin (Mich.-9), Lloyd Doggett (Tex.-35), Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.-3), Kathy Castor (Fla.-14).
Republican Senators: Orrin Hatch (Utah), Mike Enzie (Wyo.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), John Cornyn (Tex.), John Thune (S.D.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Tim Scott (S.C.), and Pat Toomey (Penn.).
Democratic Senators: Ron Wyden (Ore.), Bernie Sanders (Vt.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Robert Menedez (N.J.), Tom Carper (Del.), and Patty Murray (Wash.).
Make Your Voice Heard
All members of Congress will eventually have to vote on the legislation that makes it out of the conference committee process, which is why it is important to voice your opinion to all of your federal representatives.
Members of Congress who have been appointed to the conference committee will not only vote on the final tax reform package, they also play a major role in determining what all other members of Congress ultimately vote on. If one of your congressional representatives has been appointed to the conference committee, urge them to maintain support for critical infrastructure, housing, and local development finance tools by discarding harmful provisions from the final bill.
Top image: U.S. Capitol by Flickr user Bill Dickinson (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
About the Author
Trevor Grady is APA's government affairs associate.