- The House Ways and Means Committee moved into its third day of markup on the GOP tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
- Republican Devin Nunes blocked an amendment from Democrat Bill Pascrell of New Jersey that would have automatically extended tax relief measures to victims of natural disasters going back to 2012.
- Pascrell said that if Nunes was blocking the amendment because he was discriminating against New Jerseyans, who would have benefitted from the amendment, “we’ll settle that outside.”
A routinely staid hearing on the House GOP tax bill got a bit heated Wednesday when Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell took exception with a procedural move from Republican Rep. Devin Nunes.
Pascrell offered an amendment to the Republican tax bill — the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) — that would provide some tax exemptions and relief to people affected by federally declared natural disasters dating back to 2012.
Pascrell pointed out that this would be an expansion of a program that was instituted for other natural disasters, including for victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
But for budgetary purposes, the expansion of the program would likely add another complication for the TCJA.
Nunes blocked the amendment from being considered, noting the fact that the amendment would make changes to the Social Security program. Changes to Social Security are not allowed in bills being considered under budget reconciliation, as the TCJA is, so Nunes said the amendment was not relevant, or “germane,” to the discussion.
Pascrell was not happy with Nunes for attempting to block the amendment, which would have extended some tax relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy in Pascrell’s New Jersey district. He launched into a tirade:
“If this isn’t germane, nothing’s germane. You want to go home right now? Hit the gavel. Goodbye and pass whatever you want to pass. This is talking about our citizens. This is saying Puerto Ricans aren’t second-class citizens and, damn it, New Jersey people aren’t either. This is saying to you, you have a responsibility for everybody Mr. Nunes. Me included. And if you discriminate against me because I’m from New Jersey, we’ll settle that outside, but we’ll settle this right here now. That’s what this is about. Don’t give me the baloney about what’s germane and not germane. We could go through every one of these amendments and talk about what’s germane.”
Republican Rep. Kevin Brady, the chair of the committee, ruled in Nunes’ favour, saying the amendment was not germane to the tax legislation and therefore not allowed to be considered. A role call vote on Brady’s decision upheld the ruling, and the amendment was not considered.
Pascrell said he planned to resubmit the bill with changes to make sure it was allowed under the committee rules.
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