U.S. Representative French Hill put veterans at the forefront of his remarks on Wednesday to constituents at the Pleasant Valley Country Club in Little Rock. The Republican lawmaker’s comments after the meeting of the Political Animals Club - on FEMA and the President’s tax plan - painted a busy picture for when Congress returns to Washington D.C. next month.
An $837 million cut to the Federal Emergency Management Agency had been on the table during the August recess but House leaders say that’s been re-assessed after Hurricane Harvey. The proposed cut was part of a move to fund President Donald Trump’s southern border wall (which he originally promised to make Mexico pay for).
The central Arkansas congressman said he’s waiting to see damage estimates from flooding caused by Harvey but he’s ready for Congress to step in and help.
“There is about $3 billion left in the FY17 appropriated funds for FEMA. The Appropriations Committee is in touch with all the federal agencies and the states, Louisiana and Texas, as to what they think they’re estimates are,” said Hill.
“I hope we’ll have a recommendation in September as to what kind of spending package we need to approve for the federal share.” Hill continued, “I want to read it and see it before I commit to vote for it. But I’m inclined to support a well crafted package that benefits the flood victims in Texas and Louisiana.”
The storm that brought mass flooding to Texas and Louisiana is expected to be one of the costlier natural disasters in the nation’s history.
On Wednesday President Trump broadly outlined goals for changing the U.S. tax code. Congressman Hill sees areas of agreement between him and the President on taxes. The President wants to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 to 15 percent.
“I’d love to see the business, corporation tax rate be lowered to make the United States more competitive and to establish a business income tax rate for small business and entrepreneurs that’s similar to that. That will be more competitive to international rates,” said Hill. “With that I’d like to see us go permanently to territorial taxation.”
That system would largely stop the U.S. from taxing income that U.S.-based businesses earn in foreign countries. Hill also backs lowering and simplifying income tax rates across the board for tax paying families.
Hill’s optimistic the legislation will meet a better fate than failed healthcare repeal efforts.
“Don’t automatically think that tax reform will bog down in the same level of complexity that healthcare [repeal] did,” said Hill. “I am hopeful that we will have a plan that will have bi-partisan support in taxes. It’s been 31 years since we did a massive tax reform and there’s a lot of people who would like to see our tax laws change for the better.”
Paul Spencer and Gwendolyn Combs are running for the Democratic nomination for the 2nd District U.S. House seat held by Republican French Hill. Independent Natasha Burch Hulsey is also running in the 2018 election.