Tenth Installment of NTU’s “No Brainers” List: Ten Bipartisan Bills That Can Bridge the Partisan Divide

For the tenth consecutive year, the National Taxpayers Union is proud to present ten “no-brainer” bills that can bridge the partisan divide. Each bill meets three important criteria: bipartisan support, has never been on our list in prior years, and is a common-sense solution to a real problem facing taxpayers. That means no renaming post offices, “expressing the sense of the Congress” resolutions, or commemorative coins. Each bill demonstrates that there can be broad support across a variety of issues when partisan politics are put aside.

1. No Congressionally-Obligated Recurring Revenue Used as Pensions To Incarcerated Officials Now Act (S. 3332/H.R. 5980), Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Rick Scott (R-FL) & Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC):

The bipartisan NO CORRUPTION Act closes a loophole that permits members of Congress convicted of a crime to still collect a taxpayer-funded pension. Currently under federal law, members of Congress who are convicted of a crime are still entitled to collect a taxpayer-funded pension up until their day of sentencing. This means that after a lawful conviction for corruption, members can go on to receive their pensions for years, even while in prison, by filing one appeal after another. If enacted, it would update the law to immediately halt any federal pension payment to a member of Congress following a lawful conviction.

2. Time to Rescue United States Trusts (TRUST) Act (S. 2733/H.R. 4907), Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) & Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Ed Case (D-HI):

This commonsense bicameral legislation would set up bipartisan “rescue committees” for the ailing trust funds that support some of America’s largest and most important programs, including Social Security and Medicare. The COVID-19 crisis and economic downturn have accelerated the timeline for these trust funds to run out, and Congressional solutions to right the course are needed now more than ever. It was encouraging to see a version of this legislation included in a recent comprehensive COVID-19 relief proposal. The TRUST Act could help stabilize critical mandatory spending programs for decades to come.

3. Stop PPE Taxes Act (S. 4497), Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH):

This bipartisan legislation would temporarily suspend all tariffs imposed via Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 that are on the International Trade Commission’s current list of medical products needed to fight COVID-19 through 2022. In addition, it better enables organizations experiencing shortages of medical equipment to have access to the PPE they need to fight COVID and keep Americans safe. Since tariffs act as taxes, they needlessly raise costs to obtain PPE for healthcare workers and everyday people.

4. Wartime Contracting Commission Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 3576), Reps. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Jody Hice (R-GA):

This legislation would bring back the Wartime Contracting Commission, which during three years of existence (2009-2011) uncovered between $31 billion and $60 billion of taxpayer dollars lost to waste, fraud, and abuse through wartime contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The reauthorization bill would ask the Commission to look into waste, fraud, and abuse for all federal contracting done through the Overseas Contingency Operations account and in support of the 2001 and 2002 authorizations for use of military force.

5. Family Savings Flexibility Act (H.R. 7008), Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Cindy Axne (D-IA), and Mike Kelly (R-PA):

This bill would allow workers who own health or dependent care flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to roll over their amounts from plan year 2020 to plan year 2021, providing much-needed relief and flexibility to millions of Americans facing unexpected changes to their health and child care needs due to COVID-19. The Family Savings Flexibility Act would also raise health savings account (HSA) contribution limits, a move NTU has supported for years and will help millions of Americans save more tax-free dollars for qualified health expenses.

6. Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act (S. 2765), Sens. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI):

This bill includes the first set of bipartisan budget process reform efforts to pass the Senate Budget Committee in nearly 30 years. The Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act would move Congressional budget resolutions to a biennial (two-year) cycle, helping Congress budget for the future rather than from crisis to crisis, and includes a special reconciliation process in the second year of a budget cycle specifically for deficit reduction. The Senate Budget Committee advanced the bill to the full Senate on a 15-6 vote, earning support from both Republicans and Democrats.

7. Sustainable Municipal Access to Resilient Technology in Infrastructure Act (H.R. 4687), Reps. Harley Rouda (D-CA), Brian Babin (R-TX), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), and Ralph Norman (R-SC):

This bipartisan legislation would unlock “open and free competition among suppliers” on projects that receive partial funding from the Federal Highway Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Agriculture. Under current law, the U.S. does not have an open and competitive bidding process for construction materials. Congress can change this to allow any type of material, thereby making project managers and engineers better able to evaluate different options and select materials for infrastructure projects that enhance performance, durability, and reduce costs to taxpayers. Unlike current policies, the legislation is material-neutral since state and local government managers would still be free to choose which materials best meet the contract specifications. Equally important, these four agencies would form a Task Force to identify and make detailed recommendations for eliminating barriers in the infrastructure process that impede cost-effectiveness, sustainability, and resiliency.

8. Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act (S. 2088/H.R. 5776), Sens. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) & Reps. Ann Wagner (R-MO), David Kustoff (R-TN), Ben McAdams (D-UT), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR):

This bipartisan legislation would bring a commonsense reform to the broken National Flood Insurance Program by changing how the NFIP deals with properties that have been flooded multiple times. These repetitive loss properties make up just one percent of those covered by the program, but result in up to 30 percent of all claims and have added up to more than $12 billion in costs to the federal government. Thankfully, this legislation

incentivizes communities with a significant number of repetitive loss properties to proactively submit flood prevention plans to FEMA as a condition of their participation in the NFIP. Additionally, the bill sets deadlines for FEMA to develop criteria to govern these repeat loss plans and determine any appropriate actions for failure to act, requires FEMA to report to Congress every two years on implementation progress, and authorizes FEMA to target special assistance to communities working to address these repeatedly flooded areas.

9. Remote and Mobile Worker Relief Act (S. 3995), Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and John Barrasso (R-WY):

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant changes to the nature of work. Now, many Americans can work anywhere with an internet connection and not necessarily at their cubicle in a crowded office building. However, remote work can expose taxpayers who work remotely in a state other than their normal office location to harmful tax changes. Thankfully, bipartisan legislation would address this reality by attributing COVID-related remote work to the employee’s ordinary work location, which would provide certainty and simplicity to millions of Americans. This legislation would also protect volunteers and taxpayers who moved to live with loved ones by requiring that taxpayers reside in a state for at least 90 days during the pandemic before becoming subject to that state’s tax regime. With regard to business taxation, S. 3995 includes language protecting businesses from remote-working employees alone creating changes to apportionment formulas or establishing taxable nexus in new states. Taken together, these changes would simplify tax requirements substantially in the face of the complicating factors of the COVID-19 pandemic.

10. American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (H.R. 4549), Reps. John Larson (D-CT) and Ron Estes (R-KS):

This bipartisan legislation would correct the mistreatment of research and development (R&D) costs enacted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Though NTU is a strong supporter of TCJA, like many stakeholders we recognized that the transition of R&D costs in TCJA - from full and immediate expensing to five-year amortization, beginning in 2022 - could have a negative impact on American innovation. By restoring permanent, full and immediate expensing for R&D costs, the AICA would ensure that the U.S. remains the world’s leader in technological breakthroughs for years to come.

Previous lists are available at the links below:

2019: 9th Annual "No-Brainers" List: 10 Bipartisan Bills Congress Should Pass

2018: 8th Annual "No-Brainers" List: 10 Bills We Can All Get Behind

2017: 10 Bills That Can Bridge the Partisan Divide

2016: 10 Bills That Can Bypass Congressional Gridlock

2015: Can Congress Be Tempted By This Legislative Low-Hanging Fruit?

2014: 10 Bipartisan “No-Brainer” Bills Congress Should Pass

2013: 10 “No-Brainer” Bills: Does Congress Have the Aptitude for This Test?

2012: Congressional Aptitude Test: 10 “No-Brainer” Bills Even a Caveman Could Pass

2011: Federal IQ Test: 12 “No-Brainer” Bills Congress Should Pass for Taxpayers