WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued the following comments regarding the compromise FY2016 omnibus spending bill and the policy priorities that were included:
“Congress continues to defy expectations that nothing would get done this year. It already passed the first meaningful reform to entitlements in a generation, the first transportation bill in a decade, the first changes to our broken permitting process since 1969, Ex-Im Bank reauthorization, and trade promotion authority. The omnibus spending bill—while far from perfect—builds on these achievements by implementing a number of important business priorities that will strengthen economic growth, create jobs, and enhance America’s competitiveness and security. Additionally, we applaud lawmakers for agreeing on a long-term package of vital tax provisions that will avert tax hikes and bring companies certainty as we continue to work toward much needed comprehensive tax reform.
“We encourage Congress to get these bills passed quickly so we can give Americans peace of mind heading into the holidays.
“As we move into 2016, members of Congress and the administration must continue to find common ground and compromise—without comprising their principles. As 2015 is proving, this can be done. And it can and must be done again—even in an election year—for the good of the country.”
Lifting the crude oil export ban:
“Under the current policy, even Iran can sell its own oil—but the United States cannot. Lifting the outdated and unfair ban on oil exports was one of the Chamber’s top legislative priorities this year because it will improve global security and support hundreds of thousands of jobs at home.”
“Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015” (CISA):
“The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) is legislation that we need now, and we applaud Congress’ commitment to getting it done by including it in the omnibus spending bill. Over the past several years, major cyberattacks have dominated the headlines and dramatically raised public awareness of online security. This legislation, long championed by the Chamber, is our best chance yet to help address this economic and national security priority in a meaningful way and help prevent further attacks. Government and businesses alike are the target of these criminal efforts, and CISA will allow industry to voluntarily work with government entities to better prevent, detect, and mitigate threats.”
Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rule for meat:
“The Chamber applauds congressional leaders who agreed to include provisions in the bill that will avert imminent trade retaliation against the United States in the COOL dispute. On December 7, the World Trade Organization (WTO) authorized Canada and Mexico to apply retaliatory tariffs against $1 billion worth of U.S. exports, threatening thousands of American jobs. With retaliation expected within a matter of days, approval of this provision repealing the COOL rule for meat is the only way to avoid the substantial damage that retaliation would inflict on American workers, farmers, ranchers, and companies.”
Delay of the 40% excise tax on health benefits and the health insurance tax:
“The 40 percent excise tax on health benefits is undermining the viability of employer-sponsored insurance, which more than 160 million Americans depend on. Although the Chamber will continue to push for full repeal of the excise tax, the delay is a step in the right direction and gives employers additional time to protect the coverage valued by their employees.
“The Chamber also applauds the one-year delay of the health insurance tax that has impacted America’s small businesses particularly hard in the form of higher health insurance costs.”
“We applaud provisions that create Congressional oversight mechanisms over the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the Office of Financial Research. These are important first steps to creating the transparency needed for a balanced regulatory approach that can increase stability and economic growth.”
Reauthorization of the EB-5 program:
“We are pleased to see that the authorization of the EB-5 Regional Center program is extended through the fiscal year, but we are disappointed that good faith negotiations over a much larger reform package for the program were not completed in time for inclusion in the bill. We look forward to working with all parties in the future to reform the program in a way that includes additional protections that are appropriate for ensuring the program’s integrity, while at the same time maintaining the program’s viability for businesses to encourage more foreign direct investment and job creation in the United States.”