In Law360 Interview, Hunter Bates Discusses 2017 Congressional Accomplishment and Looks Ahead Post-August Recess

Law360 has quoted Akin Gump public law and policy partner G. Hunter Bates in the article “Partisan Tax, Health Bills Still Most Likely Outcome,” looking back at the accomplishments this year in Congress and at what is likely to transpire after the August recess.

Bates, a former chief of staff to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, said, “The exuberance of an upset November election victory gave way to the political reality of a closely divided Senate, and I think that is really the storyline of the first seven months of the Trump administration.”

At the same time, however, the article notes that GOP lawmakers did confirm Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and eliminate more than a dozen Obama administration-era rules through the Congressional Review Act. “From a big-picture perspective, the biggest change in Washington since the election is that as a general matter, businesses went from defense to offense,” Bates said. “Whereas for the past eight years they have been trying to prevent bad things from happening, they are now looking to make positive change.”

Given where the Republican agenda currently stands, Bates added, “There is certainly disappointment among Republicans…but I think that only emboldens the administration and the party to work more aggressively in the remaining time of this Congress to achieve tax reform and continue their efforts on regulatory reform.”

Looking ahead, Bates predicted that the government will likely be funded by September 30 on a continuing resolution, rather than through an actual appropriations agreement. Work on tax reform by the leaders of the House Ways and Means and Finance committees, he said, is expected to continue following an announcement of a broad agreement on taxes, though there could be some obstacles confronting Republicans, particularly from business groups.

“For every tax break there is a constituency, there is a constituency that wants to protect that tax break, and by definition, Republicans will have to choose among friends,” Bates said. “By definition, Republicans will have to make some of their friends mad in order to achieve the larger goal of achieving lower tax rates.”