President Trump has been setting the agenda for Congress since it came back from Easter break on Monday. Most pressing, Congress must pass either a short-term or long-term spending bill by Friday night to avert a government shutdown. While Congressional Republicans were hoping to get a long-term omnibus spending bill enacted before the April 28 deadline, the House and Senate Leadership will have to be content with a continuing resolution that will fund the government through May 5 so work can continue on a consensus bill to keep the government running through September.
The American Health Care Act is back on the table as again. An amendment to the bill offered by Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-NH) and pressure from the Trump Administration has garnered support from members of the House Freedom Caucus. Republicans were working to bring the bill for a vote this week, but some moderate republican remain opposed. To complicate matters, democrats threatened to oppose the continuing resolution and allow the government to shut down if Republicans scheduled the health care vote. The Trump Administration released its “one-page” outline for tax reform on Wednesday. The Trump plan slashes corporate and individual rates, increases the standard deduction, eliminates the estate tax and abolishing all tax breaks outside of the mortgage interest deduction and charitable donations. Many see the release of the President’s tax plan as the first step in what will be a long road towards comprehensive tax reform.
Finally, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced a new 20 percent tariff on imports of Canadian softwood lumber on Monday, stemming from President Trump’s campaign promise to re-negotiate U.S. trade deals. Residential home construction is the primary consumer for Canadian lumber and research from a recent Annual Builder Practices Survey conducted by Home Innovations Research Labs estimates that $5,354 of softwood lumber is used in an average multifamily home.