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The House and Senate passed Republicans’ tax plan on Wednesday after finalizing the tax bill in a conference committee last week. The tax rewrite delivers sweeping tax cuts for corporations, dropping the corporate rate to 21 percent from 35 percent; drops the individual tax rate to 36.9 percent from 37 percent; repeals the individual mandate enumerated in the Affordable Care Act. Republicans have been celebrating their biggest legislative achievement since they gained control of the House, Senate, and White House in the 2016 election. “This will indeed be a very big day when people look back at our country. It’s a whole different attitude, a whole different way,” President Donald Trump said at a celebratory lunch with GOP leaders on Wednesday. As the tax bill awaits the president’s signature, Congress must deal with a swiftly-approaching deadline to avoid a government shutdown. If a funding measure is not passed by Friday at midnight, the government will shut down on Saturday morning.


Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI, 1st) said that Congress will pass a clean continuing resolution funding bill to push the deadline to January 19. “We’re just bringing a clean, what we call a vanilla CR—no games, no sneaky things. Just a continuing resolution to get us through this moment to get us into next year.”

Lawmakers face several roadblocks on the path to avoiding a shutdown. Democrats had previously pledged to force a vote on the Dream Act, which protects undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, though some senators facing reelection in conservative states have backed away from that promise. Democrats and Republicans face a stalemate over the fate of CHIP, a program that ensures nearly 9 million children with dwindling funds and an expiration date in February. And dissent is brewing amongst members who oppose any extension of funding for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which enables the government to collect data on foreign targets without a warrant. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have said that they would oppose any legislation that included reauthorization of the bill without debate on the issues.


In other news, Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY, 10th) will be the new Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee, filling the vacancy left by former Representative John Conyers (D-MI, 13th), who resigned on Dec. 5 amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Nadler is a 13-term congressman with experience in constitutional law, and he is currently the most senior Democrat on the judiciary panel. He won a decisive victory in a caucus-wide election over Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA, 19th), who is the second-ranking Democrat on the panel. Both Democrats are well-liked by their colleagues, and Lofgren toted her experience as an immigration lawyer and knowledge of international human rights in her campaign for the post. However, Nadler’s two-year seniority on the panel gave him an edge with the House Democratic Caucus, which heavily weighs seniority when giving out plum posts such as this.

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