Congress will be adjourning marking the conclusion of the 113th Congress Getty Images, Alex Wong

Next week, Congress will be adjourning marking the conclusion of the 113th Congress. The 114th Congress will convene on January 6, 2015.

Is the Cromnibus bill all it’s cracked up to be?

The House passed the “Cromnibus” spending package to fund the federal government. The Senate voted in support of the defense authorization bill and is expected approve the appropriations bill, as passed by the House. President Obama stated his intent to sign the legislation into law—hesitatingly, however.

Next week, Congress will be adjourning marking the conclusion of the 113th Congress. The 114th Congress will convene on January 6, 2015.

Crummy “Cromnibus?”

This massive bill containing a two-month continuing resolution “CR” for the Department of Homeland Security combined with an omnibus the remainder of the federal government through Fiscal Year 2015, make up the “CRomnibus.”

As is usually the case with the end of any congressional session, members attempt to sneak in all their pet projects, initiatives and legislative items that could not muster support previously, and the cromnibus is no different. This bill, topping approximately 1600 pages, is riddled with policy initiatives with little relevance to funding the federal government. Among these “riders” are: forbidding the federal government from enforcing the ban on incandescent light bulbs, directing the Department of Energy “…not to advocate, promote, or discourage the adoption or inclusion of a particular building energy code or code provision…,” exempting expatriate health care plans from the requirement of Obamacare, increasing campaign contribution limits and easing requirements of the Wall Street-focused Dodd-Frank Act. 

While the process has been messy, the fact that the majority of the federal government will be funded throughout an entire fiscal year brings welcomed certainty, and ample opportunity for the new congress to advance sound appropriations bills for FY 2016.

United States, North American economies up - others, not so much

The economies of U.S., Canada and Mexico are looking up. Not only up, but growing at a great pace, too. Real GDP in the US grew at 4.2 percent over the past two quarters, while the US economy is expected to grow at 3 percent—that fast growth rate in a decade. Our two largest training partners, Canada and Mexico, also have seen growth with Canada having the highest purchasing managers’ index (PMI) of any of our top trading partners.

Globally, however, it is not looking as bright; Germany, Brazil, Hong Kong, South Korea, and China all saw substantial economic contractions over the past few months. Due to this, exports can be greatly hurt by this global trend. While we continue to see growth and positive economic conditions, should other major economies continue to see a downturn, it will certainly have a detrimental impact on US manufacturers and in turn hurt our already-fragile economy.

Historic preservation with sustainability

Beginning this winter, University of California, San Diego, will begin offering two-hour “green building” tour providing all interested in the historical, and now very green, renewable campus without compromising the historic integrity of the beautiful buildings.

Among some of the technologies found imbedded throughout the campus are exterior sunshades to block summer heat, channeling ocean breezes with operable windows or wind scoops, using reclaimed water to irrigate drought-resistant landscapes, solarthermal heating, and more. San Diego in the winter sounds great, let’s take a tour!

Internet taxes

As we expected, Congress did not pass the “Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA),” which would give states the authority to collect sales tax from out-of-state online retailers. However, the prohibition on discriminatory taxes on internet access, known as the “Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA),” will be extended until Oct. 1 as part of the government funding bill discussed earlier.

MFA supporters will use 2015 to try to build support and attempt again to attach the MFA to next year’s extension of ITFA. The MFA will have an even more difficult path next year with more Republicans in both chambers since both House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) oppose it.

IRA charitable rollover

This popular provision allows individuals who have reached age 701Ž2 to donate up to $100,000 to charitable organizations directly from their IRA without treating the distribution as taxable income. The provision lapsed at the end of 2013 and is about to be renewed for 2014.

As usual, Congress is acting to renew this provision only days before the end of 2014, and we believe it should be finalized and enacted by Congress this weekend. This past week, there has also been a last minute effort to make this provision permanent, but this effort failed.

Dain Hansen is vice president of government relations for The IAPMO Group, Washington, D.C. He can be reached at [email protected], 202/414-6177.

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