Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, has been named acting chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the main tax-writing committee in Congress.
He succeeds Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who was elected Speaker of the House on Thursday. Johnson has been chairman of the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee.
The Republican Steering Committee will meet to determine the next chairman of the full committee. While Johnson is acting chairman, all committee business will continue as scheduled, according to a news release.
“I am honored to serve the Ways and Means Committee during this time of transition,” Johnson said in a statement. “Under Chairman Ryan’s leadership we have enjoyed great successes, and I will continue to focus our efforts on critical issues moving forward. Once the Steering Committee selects a new chairman, I look forward to resuming my role as chairman of Social Security Subcommittee.”
Ryan succeeded Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, as Speaker of the House after winning the support of a divided Republican caucus, pledging to unify the party. “The House is broken,” he said. “We're not solving problems. We’re adding to them. And I’m not interested in laying blame. … We are wiping the slate clean.”
Boehner resigned as chairman last month, a day after welcoming Pope Francis to address a joint session of Congress. Under pressure from more conservative colleagues, Boehner had expected to pass the job to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., but McCarthy lost the support of his colleagues after boasting on TV that the House Benghazi Committee had succeeded in lowering Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers.
Before his term ended, Boehner managed to steer a budget deal through the House on Wednesday to avert a government debt default with the help of 187 Democrats joined by 79 Republicans. The budget deal includes some tax provisions, including one that promises to make it easier for the Internal Revenue Service to audit large partnerships, such as hedge funds and private equity firms, starting in 2018, by enabling it to audit the partnership itself rather than individual partners. The bill exempts smaller partnerships with fewer than 100 partners.
The bill would also limit Social Security claiming strategies, particularly for upper-income taxpayers, to prevent manipulating the timing of claiming Social Security benefits to maximize delayed retirement credits. The budget deal would end the file-and-suspend, also known as claim-and-suspend, strategy along with another strategy involving restricted applications for spousal benefits.
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