Legislation in the 111th Congress
Representative Levin introduced several pieces of legislation in the 111th Congress that addressed pressing issues facing the United States:
This resolution recognizes the 20th anniversary of the suppression of protestors and citizens in and Tiananmen Square in Beijing, People’s Republic of China, on June 3 and 4, 1989. The resolution expresses sympathy to the families of those killed, tortured and imprisoned in connection with the democracy protests at Tiananmen Square, calls on the People’s Republic of China to invite full and independent investigations into the Tiananmen Square crackdown, calls on the authorities of People’s Republic of China to review immediately the cases of those still imprisoned, and calls on the People's Republic of China to end harassment and detention of those who continue to advocate peacefully for political reform. H.Res. 489 was approved by the House of Representatives on June 2, 2009.
This legislation seeks to correct an inequity in the tax code that allows some investment fund managers to pay a lower rate of tax on their compensation for services than other Americans. Currently, the managers of private investment partnerships are able to receive compensation for these services at the much lower 15% capital gains tax rate rather that the ordinary income tax rate by virtue of their fund’s partnership structure. The legislation clarifies that any income received from a partnership in compensation for services is ordinary income for tax purposes. This legislation is currently pending before he House Ways and Means Committee.
This legislation would increase the amount of federal loans available to help automakers and suppliers retool to manufacture advanced technology vehicles and components. The bill would amend Section 136 of the Energy Independence and Security Act to increase the amount of retooling loans available under the Advanced Technology Vehicle Incentive Program (ATVMIP) from $25 billion to $50 billion. The Section 136 loan program makes it more economically feasible for U.S. auto manufacturers and part suppliers to retool by providing low-interest loans for the cost of retooling a manufacturing facility in the U.S. to produce advanced technology vehicles. This legislation is currently pending before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. On May 21, the Committee approved the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which included the provisions of H.R. 2150.
This legislation would help prevent federal taxation of forgiven student loans. To make a college education more accessible and affordable, Congress previously created programs – the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) program as well as the Income Contingent Repayment Program – that allow student loan debt to be forgiven under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, this discharge of indebtedness is currently treated as taxable income to the borrower. H.R. 2492 would ensure that federal student loan debt that is forgiven under these programs is not taxed. This legislation has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
This legislation would establish a network of technical assistance centers to help health care providers implement clinical, managerial, and health care delivery best practices. The Institute of Medicine estimates that up to 98,000 people die every year from medical errors, and up to 100,000 from hospital-acquired infections. Many of these deaths can be prevented when doctors and nurses use the best practices for avoidance. The purpose of H.R. 2948 is to help health care providers implement best practices to achieve cost savings in the system while dramatically improving patient care. This legislation is pending before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
This legislation provides additional incentives for farmers, small businesses, and restaurateurs to donate wholesome food to charities like food banks and pantries that fight hunger in America. H.R. 3227 permanently extends the special deduction businesses that donate food inventory to charity are eligible to receive. It also would temporarily allow taxpayers to deduct the full fair market value of food inventory donations. This temporary increase in the amount of the deduction will help businesses defray the cost of donations and help ensure that they continue to have a strong incentive to donate food at a time when the need is particularly acute. This legislation is currently pending before the House Ways and Means Committee.
This legislation is designed to make more Americans aware of advance directives and provide additional resources to help them plan for end of life care. The legislation establishes a public education campaign to raise awareness of the importance of planning for care near the end of life and sets up a national, toll-free information hotline on advance directives. To increase portability of advance directives, the Advance Directives Promotion Act requires physicians to honor advance directives from other states. The bill also enhances the end of life planning consultation in the Welcome to Medicare Visit to ensure that all beneficiaries have access to a comprehensive conversation with their physician about end of life care planning. This legislation is pending before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
This legislation would extend and improve the existing tax credits for the purchase of medium and heavy duty hybrid vehicles. Tax credits ranging from $1,500 to $12,000 are currently available for the purchase of medium or heavy duty hybrid vehicles, such as delivery vehicles, utility trucks and garbage trucks. The maximum credit varies depending on the size and fuel efficiency of the vehicle. The Heavy Duty Hybrid Truck Incentives Improvement Act would extend the tax credits for five years and double the credit amounts. It would also expand the credit to cover purely electric trucks, and make the credits more accessible for the very largest vehicles. Status: A one-year extension of the current credit was included in the Tax Extenders Act of 2009 as passed by the House of Representatives.
Under current law, tax-exempt entities such as foundations and universities that invest in hedge funds are subject to unrelated business income tax (UBIT) due to the debt incurred by the fund. The debt-financed income rules were created decades ago to address a separate issue, but have forced many tax-exempt investors to channel their investments in hedge funds through offshore “blocker” corporations. This bill would fix a problem that unfairly forces our pension funds, universities and foundations offshore to make certain investments. These rules were never meant to apply to this kind of investment. The bill would create an exception to the debt-finance income rules that would allow all tax-exempt entities, including foundations, to invest directly in onshore hedge funds without being subject to UBIT. This legislation is pending before the House Ways and Means Committee.
This proposal was included in President Obama’s 2010 budget. It would build on the Recovery Act, which included a 75% exclusion from capital gains tax for qualified investments in 2009 and 2010. Too many small businesses are struggling to obtain access to credit in the current environment. This legislation would expand the capital gains exclusion for qualified small business stock to 100% and eliminate the applicability of the AMT for such stock acquired in 2010. This would provide a strong incentive for timely equity investments in qualified small businesses. This legislation is pending before the House Ways and Means Committee.
This bipartisan legislation temporarily suspends or reduces for three years duties on over 600 products, most of which are inputs or components to products manufactured here in the United States. Duty-free entry of these inputs reduces U.S. manufacturers’ costs, and thereby can promote their competiveness. Many of the provisions in the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill of 2009 renew existing duty suspensions or reductions. This bill is the outcome of a rigorous, thorough vetting process, which included review by the independent International Trade Commission, the Department of Commerce and other agencies within the Administration. This legislation is pending before the House Ways and Means Committee.
This legislation would prohibit banks from charging unreasonable fees on debit cards used to pay government benefits, including unemployment insurance. Many states have begun to offer unemployment insurance and other benefits on debit cards. While these cards can provide convenience, workers often face excessive fees for withdrawals, balance inquiries, attempting to use their card when it has an insufficient balance, and other services. The Benefit Card Fairness Act would set limits on allowable fees for government benefit debit cards, ensure that beneficiaries have accessible and free access to statements and account balances for the cards, require that beneficiaries have the option of receiving their benefits via direct deposit into a bank account, and create more stringent guidelines about fee disclosures and error resolution. This legislation is pending before the House Committee on Financial Services.
This legislation would help manufacturing firms access the financing they need to expand, diversify, and hire new workers by building on a credit support model utilized successfully by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). The legislation would create a loan fund that the MEDC and their counterparts in other states could leverage to support manufacturing firms. The bill would give states resources to partner with financial institutions to directly address the cash flow and collateral problems that are preventing too many manufacturers from accessing credit, and complements President Obama’s call to expand access to credit as central priority of economic recovery efforts. This legislation is pending before the House Committee on Financial Services.