WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) today voted in favor of H.R. 2029, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act, which lifts the ban on oil exports, makes permanent key tax provisions and provides 2016 funding for the Department of Defense and other agencies.
“It is about time Congress acted to lift the ban on oil exports,” Inhofe said. “Over the past forty years, Oklahoma’s oil producers have been at a disadvantage because they haven’t been able to trade oil like the rest of the world. This has contributed to the thousands of job losses Oklahoma has recently endured and today’s passage of a bill to lift the ban will help stem that tide while decreasing the price of gasoline at the pump. Today’s bill also provides essential tax relief to families and businesses and provides our troops with the resources they need.”
“It is unfortunate Democrats blocked the Senate’s consideration of regular appropriations bills throughout the year and forced us into an end-of-the-year, take-it-or-leave-it deal without any deliberative process. It is my hope that the Senate will return to regular order next year, pass each appropriations bill independently and stop the practice of year end omnibus bills.”
H.R. 2029, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act:
Lifts the Ban on Oil Exports
H.R. 2029 lifts the 40-year old ban on oil exports. This outdated policy has put Oklahoma energy producers at a strategic disadvantage compared to international producers. Lifting the ban will help stem the tide of job losses the industry has experienced over the last year. It will also bolster our national security by providing our allies with an opportunity to purchase oil from us instead of from Russia or Iran. Inhofe is a sponsor of S. 1312, legislation to lift the oil export ban that is incorporated into H.R. 2029.
Provides Enduring Tax Relief to Oklahoma’s Families and Small Businesses:
- Permanently extends the research and development tax credit. Used by innovative businesses across the country, this tax credit encourages companies to invest in new technology to create and support the jobs of tomorrow. This provision has been extended for over a decade by just a few years at a time.
- Permanently extends Section 179 expensing and provides a five year extension of bonus depreciation. Section 179 was also modified so that it is indexed to inflation in the future. These provisions will provide Oklahoma farmers and small businesses the long-term certainty needed to make the best possible decisions when investing capital into their business property or when purchasing equipment to expand their businesses and create jobs.
- Extends through 2016 the Indian Lands Accelerated Depreciation provision, which encourages the development of business in Oklahoma by providing businesses that purchase capital equipment for use on former or current Indian lands. The provision allows businesses to depreciate property more than 40 percent faster than would otherwise be allowed. The provision includes a modification sought by Sen. Inhofe that makes the provision elective to the taxpayer, providing Oklahoma companies with flexibility to choose the depreciation schedule that best suits their needs. In April, Sen. Inhofe introduced S. 947, legislation that would make permanent this provision. This provision was a leading reason Macy’s invested $170 million in a state-of-the-art facility in Owasso, Okla. that is expected to create 1,500 new permanent jobs and an additional 1,000 more during the Christmas shopping season.
- Establishes the Charitable Agriculture Research Act, which Sen. Inhofe introduced with Sen. Thune as S. 1429 in May. The provision provides for the creation of Agriculture Research Organizations (ARO) by extending public charity tax status to entities conducting agricultural research in partnership with a land-grant universities and agricultural colleges. This provision is particularly important to fostering stronger relationships between the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore, OK and Oklahoma’s premier agriculture universities to support new and innovative agricultural research. Sen. Inhofe has been working to enact this legislation since September 2011.
- Permanently extends the exclusion of military basic housing allowances from determining income for housing program eligibility, ensuring our military service members are able to secure the housing their families need.
- Permanently extends the 20 percent employer wage credit for employees called to active military service, encouraging employers to retain employees during periods they are called to serve. This bill also modifies the provision so that it applies to all employers instead of just those with 50 or fewer employees.
- Permanently extends the child tax credit to assist low income Oklahomans while ensuring the provision is not abused by requiring individuals to have a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer ID number to qualify for receiving the credit in any amended filings.
- Provides clarification and corrections to partnership audit rules included in last month’s budget deal important to Oklahoma’s energy industry.
- Includes the language of S. 1646, which ensures employees of American Airlines will be able to minimize tax payments if they elect to deposit bankruptcy payments they received for pension losses into an Individual Retirement Account. This allowance was given to employees of other airlines that suffered bankruptcy, but it expired prior to that of American Airlines. Sen. Inhofe first began working on this issue in July 2014.
- Extends short line railroad tax credit through 2016, promoting the maintenance and development of short line railroads in rural Oklahoma.
Delays Obamacare Tax Provisions Key to its Funding and Defunds IPAB:
H.R. 2029 achieves key delays in Obamacare tax provisions, undermining the ongoing support for the legislation and further proving the need to repeal the bill. H.R. 2029:
- Delays the Medical Device Tax for two years. Obamacare imposed a 2.3 percent excise tax on all medical devices sold in the United States. Sen. Inhofe cosponsored S. 149, which permanently repeals the medical device tax.
- Delays the Cadillac Tax for two years. Obamacare imposed a 40 percent tax on high premium health insurance plans, which hurt workers by encouraging employers to switch to less expensive plans with worse benefits. Sen. Inhofe sponsored S. 2045, which permanently repeals the Cadillac tax.
- Delays the excise tax on health insurance for one year. This excise tax would affect every American who purchases health insurance. Sen. Inhofe is a cosponsor of S. 183, which provides a full repeal of this provision of the law.
- Defunds Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Known as “death panels,” the IPAB allows unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats to impose cuts to the Medicare program based on arbitrary budget targets. Sen. Inhofe is a cosponsor of S. 141, which permanently repeals the IPAB.
On December 3, Sen. Inhofe voted in favor of H.R. 3762, which repealed the core components of Obamacare and defunded Planned Parenthood. H.R. 3762 passed the Senate 52-47 and will go to the President’s desk following House passage.
Provides Funding for our National Security and Oklahoma’s Military Installations
H.R. 2029 fully funds the military at the levels authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a critical accomplishment during a time of war. The legislation:
- Provides $514.1 billion in base funding and $58.6 billion in funding for Overseas Contingency Operations.
- Adds $608 million to reduce the shortfall in the military’s readiness.
- Funds a 1.3 percent pay raise for military personnel.
- Adds $300 million to fix housing allowance shortfall, ensuring housing for eligible troops and families.
- Provides $250 million in lethal aid to Ukraine to help it defend itself against Putin’s aggressions. In February, Sen. Inhofe authored S. 452 to authorize the president to provide Ukraine with lethal aid.
- Provides $8.1 billion for missile defense, adding $175 million above the president’s request, and adds $329.8 million for Israeli missile defense programs which includes $150 million to begin production of David’s Sling.
- Prohibits closure of Guantanamo Bay through Dec. 31, 2016, and prohibits the transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States and places conditions on international release of detainees.
- Fully funds all of Oklahoma’s military construction projects authorized in the NDAA, including:Fully funds the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) program, which is necessary for the modernization of the Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer and the U.S. artillery force. Sen. Inhofe successfully supported legislation in the NDAA authorizing full funding at $273.9 million to acquire 30 new PIMs and H.R. 2029 appropriates that funding.
- Ft. Sill will receive $56 million for phase two of the reception barrack’s complex and an additional $13.4 million for a training support facility.
- Altus Air Force Base will receive $18 million for a 120-room dormitory and $10.4 million for its KC-46A fuel cell maintenance hangar.
- Tinker Air Force Base will receive $37 million for a KC-46 Depot Maintenance Dock and another $12.9 million for a new air traffic control tower.
- Will Rogers World Airport will receive $7.6 million as we continue the MC-12 bed-down with the National Guard.
- Fully funds the KC-46A, which will replace our aging KC-135 tanker aircraft. Sen. Inhofe supported legislation that fully funds the KC-46 program for $2.7 billion and that funding was included in H.R. 2029. Altus Air Force Base will begin receiving the first of four Fiscal Year 2016 aircraft in August 2016.
- Increases funding for Civil Air Patrol operations by $2 million, aircraft procurement by $7.8 million, and vehicle procurement by $723,000.
- Funds the Counter-Narcotics Program for the National Guard at $88 million.
- Adds $1.2 million to the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps Program that will help grow the program to 410 units across all 50 states.
- Provides $25 million in supplemental Impact Aid to local educational agencies and schools with military dependent children as well as an additional $5 million in Impact Aid for schools with military dependent children with severe disabilities.
Provides Funding To Support and Care for Our Veterans:
H.R. 2029 provides $163.8 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which includes medical services for 6.9 million patients, major and minor hospital construction and maintenance to correct safety issues and deficiencies, veteran disability compensation programs for 4.7 million veterans and their survivors, education benefits for nearly 1.2 million veterans and vocational rehabilitation and employment training for over 130,000 veterans. The bill also includes $1.24 billion for major VA construction projects and $406 million for minor projects.
Includes Essential Cybersecurity Legislation
In October, Sen. Inhofe voted in favor of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, which passed 74-21. This legislation encourages private businesses to voluntarily collaborate with the government on cybersecurity threats and defenses. The legislation is included in H.R. 2029; however, it does not include a provision problematic for energy, telecommunications and other industries with critical infrastructure that would have resulted in mandatory reporting. Sen. Inhofe fought against this provision’s inclusion in the Senate bill and helped ensure its removal during the conference process.
Promotes Oklahoma Agriculture
- Repeals Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for livestock products that were contained in the 2002 Farm Bill. COOL has resulted in the United States facing over $1 billion in economic retaliatory measures by Canada and Mexico because it is considered a non-tariff trade barrier. Including the repeal of COOL will protect American exporters from retaliatory measures and ensure Oklahoma’s livestock producers remain competitive in international trade.
- Prohibits Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation of greenhouse gases from livestock and animal waste, continuing a prohibition from last year’s appropriations bill.
- Prohibits EPA and the Corps of Engineers regulation of ordinary farming and ranching activities and the construction or maintenance of farm or stock ponds or irrigation ditches and the maintenance of drainage ditches.
- Prohibits Fish and Wildlife Service listing of the sage grouse as an endangered species.
Reforms Visa Waiver Program to Protect Against Terrorists
H.R. 2029 includes a provision similar to H.R. 158, which passed the House on December 9. This legislation requires any citizen of the 38 countries that participate in the visa waiver program to get a visa if they have traveled to Syria, Iraq, Iran or Sudan in last five years. The legislation enables the administration to add additional countries or specific locations to this list as warranted by conditions. The provision also requires the countries participating in the visa waiver program to share more intelligence with the United States to continue their participation. Sen. Inhofe is a cosponsor of S. 2362, the Senate companion to H.R. 158.
Protects the Life of the Unborn
H.R. 2029 maintains prohibitions on federal funding paying for abortions and blocks the use of local and federal funds for abortions in the District of Columbia. The legislation also prevents the Department of Health and Human Services from discriminating against health care providers who refuse to provide, pay for or refer patients for abortions.
Protects 2nd Amendment Rights
- H.R. 2029 explicitly prohibits funding from being provided to implement the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. In March, Sen. Inhofe offered an amendment to the budget that prohibited taxpayer funding from being used to fund the treaty, and it passed 59-41.
- H.R. 2029 includes a provision that prohibits EPA from regulating lead ammunition or fishing tackle in 2016. This provision is similar to S. 1505, which Senator Inhofe sponsored last Congress.
Promotes Oklahoma Aviation
H.R. 2029 provides full funding to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Contract Tower program, which is essential to the general aviation community and Oklahoma’s six contract towers. Sen. Inhofe first became involved in defending the contract tower program in May 2013 after the FAA threatened to close 149 of them as a result of sequestration. Each year since then, he has secured full funding for contract towers. In June, Sen. Inhofe received the 2015 Congressional Leadership Award from the Contract Tower Association for his work to defend the program against budget cuts.
Promotes State Regulation of Energy Resources
H.R. 2029 provides $5.4 million to the Risk Based Data Management System at the Department of Energy, which provides support to the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC). The GWPC is the driving force behind efforts to establish excellence in state-based regulations of the energy industry through innovative applications such as FracFocus.
Includes Full Funding for FAST Act, of which OK will receive $693 million for the first year (FY’16)
H.R. 2029 appropriates the full amount authorized under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act - $42.4 billion for Fiscal Year 2016. The FAST Act was authored by Sen. Inhofe and is a five-year bill dedicated to improving the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure, benefiting our roads, bridges, transit systems, and rail network. The bill also reforms and strengthens transportation programs while refocusing them on national priorities, providing long-term certainty and more flexibility for states and local governments, streamlining the project approval processes, and maintaining a strong commitment to safety. With a fully-funded long-term reauthorization bill, Oklahoma will receive more than $3.6 billion in new transportation funding, making this the largest single infrastructure investment in Oklahoma’s history. With the FAST Act’s funding predictability, our state’s transportation leaders will be able to launch vital modernization projects to encourage economic growth over the next 50 years. This bill will provide the long overdue investments needed to continue Oklahoma’s legacy as the most attractive state to do business in America.
Provides Funding to Maintain Corps Lakes in Oklahoma.
H.R. 2029 includes over $74 million for the operation and maintenance of Corps lakes in Oklahoma.