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House, Senate To Reconcile Tax Cut Plans

Republicans to reconcile House and Senate tax bills this week. WaPo: "Lawmakers are expecting an intense period of work starting Monday as lobbyists descend on the conference committee that will negotiate differences between the two pieces of legislation. Of particular concern will be changes made hours before the Senate passed its final legislation early Saturday morning, when the Senate changed its bill to preserve a provision of the current tax code that sets an alternative minimum tax floor for very wealthy individuals. That provision would be eliminated in the House bill, and scrapping the alternative minimum tax has long been a priority for GOP tax writers."

Trump Takes Aim At Utah National Monuments

Trump to take aim at Utah's National Monuments. NPR: "President Trump is expected to announce his administration will dramatically shrink the size of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments when he travels to Utah on Monday. The visit caps months of speculation and a controversial review of the boundaries of large national monuments that protect more than 100,000 acres of U.S. public land. The review, conducted by Trump's Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, originally looked at more than two dozen national monuments designated by presidential decree since the 1990s... On Monday, during a ceremony at the Utah state Capitol, Trump is reportedly expected to announce plans to shrink the boundaries of Bears Ears by up to 85 percent. His predecessor, President Barack Obama, created the monument shortly before leaving office. The Grand Staircase monument, which stems from the Clinton administration, could be cut in half."

Government Shutdown Looms

Congress faces another tough week with shutdown threat looming. The Week: "Congress is heading into another busy week following the frenetic rewriting and passage of the Senate GOP tax bill. At the top of the agenda is negotiating a deal on keeping the federal government funded to avoid a shutdown of some agencies on Friday, when current funding runs out. House Republican leaders are proposing a two-week extension through a 'continuing resolution' that would keep government agencies funded until Dec. 22. GOP leaders say the extra time would allow for negotiations on boosting spending for the Pentagon and domestic agencies, which otherwise face cuts. Democrats are demanding a deal on protecting young undocumented immigrants. Republicans don't want to include the immigration fix in the budget deal, suggesting a possible deadlock."

Hatch Claims Poor People Don't Deserve Government

Hatch claims poor people don’t deserve government help because ‘they won’t help themselves’. ThinkProgress: "Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is defending a children’s health care program he helped create, but if the federal deficit balloons by at least $1 trillion as predicted under the Republican tax plan he’s authored and shepherded through the Senate, programs for the elderly and the poor will likely take a hit... 'I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything,' Hatch, the Senate Finance Committee Chair, said Thursday on the Senate floor."

Grassley Praises Estate Tax Repeal For Rewarding Rich

Grassley claims estate tax repeal rewards wealthy, punishes others for "spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies." Des Moines Register: "If the tax reform packages that have now passed the U.S. House and Senate become law, at least one thing appears likely: The federal estate tax will be slashed and perhaps eliminated altogether. That will represent a victory for Republicans in Iowa’s congressional delegation, who have consistently opposed the tax and argued it unfairly lumps in the state’s farmers with some of the country’s richest families. But a review of federal tax data and nonpartisan research on the subject shows that family farmers and small business owners represent a tiny share of estate tax payers, and that the taxes they owe rarely force them to sell land or quit farming. Despite that evidence, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, a member of the tax-writing Finance Committee in the Senate, has long presented the estate tax as a potentially ruinous burden on farmers and small business owners. 'I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,' Grassley said, 'as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.' The seven-term senator runs an operation in Butler County with his son and grandson and frequently describes himself as a farmer. When asked if his own family farm would be subject to the estate tax, Grassley initially said it would not."

U.S. Quits Global Migration Agreement

US quits UN global compact on migration, says it'll set its own policy. CNN: "The United States notified the United Nations that it will no longer take part in the global compact on migration, saying it undermines the nation's sovereignty. The US has been a part of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants since it was formed last year. The declaration aims to ensure the rights of migrants, help them resettle and provide them with access to education and jobs. It calls for the negotiation of a global compact on migration, which is expected to be adopted next year... In explaining its withdrawal Saturday, the US said the pact contains provisions that are inconsistent with the nation's immigration policies. While the US is proud of its leadership on migration and refugee issues, the global approach is not compatible with the nation's sovereignty, according to Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN. Haley said Trump made the decision, and emphasized that Americans should determine their own policies on immigration. 'Our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone,' she said. 'We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country.'"

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