Congress To Vote on Budget and Tax Reform, Tom Price Resigns
October 02, 2017
Congress to vote on budget and tax reform this week; Tom Price resigns as Health and Human Services Secretary; U.S. manufacturing activity reaches a 13-year high, as construction spending increases.
- Congress to vote on budget and tax reform this week. The House is set to vote this week on a fiscal 2018 budget, which will pave the way for Republicans to pass tax reform by a simple majority without a Democratic filibuster. The House Budget Committee had advanced the budget in July, yet lacked the votes to pass on the floor because conservative Freedom Caucus members were reluctant to move forward without a tax reform blueprint. House and Senate GOP leaders unveiled their tax reform framework last week, which received widespread support from the Freedom Caucus members. The House budget would increase military spending and call for $203 billion in mandatory spending cuts, mostly affecting anti-poverty and agriculture programs, over the next decade. The Senate GOP budget paves the path for $1.15 trillion in tax cuts. Some major differences between the House and Senate GOP budgets will have to be reconciled prior to tax reform moving forward. House Republicans agree on the need to get started on tax reform and are aiming to finish tax reform by the end of the year. [The Hill]
- Tom Price resigns as Health and Human Services Secretary. Tom Price, the health and human services secretary, resigned under pressure on Friday after he was found to have spent at least $400,000 in taxpayer money on private jets and military plans for work travel. The White House’s announcement of Mr. Price’s departure was sparse, with none of the customary thanks for his service. The announcement simply said that Mr. Price “offered his resignation earlier today and the president accepted.” President Trump tapped Don J. Wright, a deputy assistant secretary for health and the director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, to serve as acting secretary. Possible candidates for a successor include Seema Verma, the administrator for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. [New York Times]
Economic Indicators & News
- U.S. manufacturing activity reaches a 13-year high, as construction spending increases. U.S. factory activity rose to a more than 13-year high in September due to strong gains in new orders and raw material prices, showing underlying strength in the economy even despite the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on third quarter growth. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported that its index of national factory activity surged to a reading of 60.8 last month, the highest reading since May 2004, up from 58.8 in August. A reading above 50 in the ISM index indicates an expansion in manufacturing. The ISM said that Harvey and Irma had caused supply chain and pricing issues in the chemical products sector and led to concerns about the food, beverage and tobacco products industries. A separate report on Monday from the Commerce Department said that construction spending rose 0.5 percent to $1.21 trillion in August. The government said that Harvey and Irma did not appear to have impacted the construction spending data, as responses from Texas and Florida areas affected by the storms were “not significantly lower than normal.” In August, spending on private residential projects increased 0.4 percent, rising for a fourth straight month. [Reuters]