WASHINGTON—Donald Trump dominated the federal regulatory and legislative picture in 2017.
The year began with President Trump's first executive orders, which froze all federal regulations; ordered federal agencies to identify two regulations to repeal for every one they promulgate; and canceled the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement with 11 other countries negotiated by the Obama administration.
It concluded with the Republican-led Congress working to pass sweeping and controversial tax reform legislation. The House passed its tax package along party lines Nov. 13, as did the Senate with its version in the very early morning of Dec. 2.
House and Senate Republicans hope to pass a reconciliation bill by the end of the year, and planned to begin negotiations as early as Dec. 4. However, complications ensued Dec. 2 when President Trump tweeted that he would consider raising the top corporate tax rate in the bill to 22 percent from 20 percent. Capping the corporate tax rate at 20 percent was the cornerstone of tax reform to many Republicans in both the House and Senate.
Although the House and Senate bills differ in many ways, both packages won general approval from business interests. However, some of the provisions in both versions were controversial.
The House version would phase out the estate tax, a goal long sought by the Tire Industry Association and other small business groups, by 2025. The Senate version would double the estate tax exemption but keep the tax on the books.
TIA and other small business associations condemned the House provisions on pass-through entities, in which business owners are taxed as individuals rather than corporations. They complained that pass-through entities did not receive the tax breaks corporations got in the House bill.
The Senate bill offered the same pass-through tax rate as the House bill—25 percent—but Senate leadership said its pass-through rules would be less restrictive than those in the House.
The Senate bill also would repeal the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act. This is perhaps the legislation's most controversial provision, though many business groups supported the American Health Care Act—the Republicans' replacement for the ACA—when it was introduced early this year.