It was another busy week in the House Ways and Means Committee with important hearings on tax policy and the state of our economy. We heard from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in his annual testimony before the committee that the American economy is strong and our efforts at reforming the tax code have been very successful.
I thanked him for issuing the proper regulations regarding section 199A of the tax code to ensure businesses which physically hold, store, and transport commodities such as grain elevators and energy services firms are eligible for tax deductions as we intended. Both of these industries are economically important to Nebraska, and this was an important issue to be addressed.
In a hearing before the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, of which I am now the ranking member, we discussed the downside of temporary tax policies. Temporary tax provisions such as the biodiesel tax credit represent good tax policy, but the way they are typically allowed to expire and retroactively renewed is not good for the producers who rely on them.
On the jobs front, you’ve heard me speak quite a bit about the JOBS for Success Act which I authored last Congress following a series of hearings in the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee. With a rapidly expanding economy and unemployment reaching multi-year lows, it is imperative we engage Americans to bring them off the economic sidelines so they can achieve self-sufficiency.
I appreciate the leadership of Ranking Member Brady, Worker & Family Support Ranking Member Walorski, and Senator Daines in continuing our efforts through the JOBS for Success Act to bring much-needed reforms to the TANF program by reintroducing this bill. As our hearings illustrated, employers need workers as badly as Americans on the sidelines need to support their families, and these reforms will go a long way toward helping them both.
During the week before, we heard from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on the status of ongoing trade negotiations with China and he was optimistic about the prospects of securing a deal to lower tariffs and encourage better treatment of American exports. A number of my colleagues and I also expressed concerns over persistent steel and aluminum tariffs levied against Canada and Mexico despite the negotiation of USMCA, or new NAFTA.
When I asked Ambassador Lighthizer about the current state of trade negotiations with Japan, an important ally and huge consumer of agricultural products, he reassured me negotiations would begin in the near future. I recently became co-chair of the Congressional U.S.-Japan Caucus to encourage such a trade agreement, which will benefit Nebraska agriculture in a big way.
These are all very important issues before the committee which affect both Nebraska and the country as a whole. We need to move forward on various trade negotiations, engage more Americans currently on the sidelines of our economy, and continually update the tax code to ensure it best serves the American people. I’m honored to bring this message to Washington, D.C. on behalf of Nebraska’s Third District.