Democrats Johnson Amendment

Sam Craig is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Democrats used Byrd Rule to stop the repeal

The Johnson Amendment was kept in its place by Democrat members of the Senate. The Amendment repeal effort did not satisfy the Senate rules requiring elements of the tax bill to be linked to the budget. Republicans were quick to respond. They now want to move a needed House-Senate report of the conference under special budgetary rules which stops the Democrats from utilizing a filibuster. If all those rules are to be applied, then all components of that rule should affect the budget. According to the Senate parliamentarian, Johnson language was not up to that standard.

Repeal of the Johnson Amendment would have permitted the non-profit entities and religious institutions under the umbrella of 501(c)3s to endorse any political candidate or any number of candidates.

This failure to repeal the Johnson Amendment is a personal failure for Trump. He had pledged to destroy it during the National Prayer Breakfast held in February. A number of spiritual leaders-especially with a penchant for the Republican party- have made this repeal a priority. The tax bill which was passed by the House earlier in November canceled the Johnson Amendment for non-profits completely. The Senate bill, however, demurred from doing so. This brings to the fore a difference which should be ironed out during the final weeks of December.

Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, and the head Democrat the Senate Finance Committee said, “I’m pleased to announce that Democrats successfully prevented the repeal of the Johnson Amendment from being jammed into any final Republican tax deal,” and that he will continue to oppose any and all tries to eliminate this specific critical provision.

Democrats understood from the outset that it was not possible to challenge the final version of GOP tax bill. This is as this bill was passed exclusively with Republican votes both in the Senate and in the House. The GOP has used the reconciliation to pass the aforesaid tax bill. This needs only a simple majority within both chambers. Democratic leaders thus adopted the “Byrd Rule” challenge. The final say on what components of this bill meet the Byrd Rule is done by the Senate parliamentarian. Democrats had earlier won a victory by throwing out the fetus eligible 529 plans. This is a plan allowing parents to begin tax-preferred savings accounts for their unborn fetuses to go to college. A few Republicans expressed dismay that the repeal of Johnson Amendment was not permitted in the final bill.

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