This week has seen some good with the defeat of Roy Moore, some bad with the ending of net neutrality, and we appear to be closer to the Republicans passing a “tax reform” package designed to greatly increase the wealth of the ultra-wealthy. There is a one piece of good news related to the Tax Bill today. As the Republicans are forced to pass this through budget reconciliation, there are limits on what can be included. The Senate parliamentarian has ruled that the repeal of the highly popular Johnson Amendment cannot be included.
The Hill reports:
The Senate parliamentarian has blocked language repealing the Johnson Amendment and allowing churches and 501(c)3 nonprofits to endorse candidates and engage in partisan politics from inclusion in the tax bill.
Sen. Ron Wyden‘s (D-Ore.) office confirmed to The Hill on Thursday night that the Senate parliamentarian had determined the inclusion of the Johnson Amendment repeal did not meet Senate rules that require elements of the tax bill to have something to do with the budget.
The Senate is seeking to move a House-Senate conference report under special budgetary rules that prevent Democrats from using a filibuster. To use those rules, all parts of the bill must have a budgetary effect, and the parliamentarian ruled the Johnson language did not meet that standard…
The proposal was a major priority for President Trump, who vowed to repeal the amendment during his 2016 presidential campaign, saying it would “give our churches their voice back.”
Specifically, the House bill would have temporarily allowed nonprofits to engage in political speech in the ordinary course of its activities, so long as the organization didn’t incur significant expenses while doing so.
The Johnson Amendment, named for then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas), has been part of the tax code since 1954. It prohibits churches and other tax-exempt organizations from participating in some political activity.
This is another political setback for Trump, who has (fortunately) failed at getting through much of his agenda or fulfilling most of his campaign promises. To put it in language which Donald Trump would understand, he is a loser.
While a defeat for Trump and the religious right, most Americans should be pleased by this development. A poll earlier this year showed that 72 percent of Americans want to keep the Johnson Amendment. Many church leaders also agree in supporting the Johnson Amendment.
The Washington Post also notes that repeal would have allowed a further increase in dark money in politics:
There were concerns that a repeal would create a new dark-money channel for powerful donors to quietly funnel funds to political candidates. Under the House plan, both the Clinton Foundation and Trump Foundation would be able to openly get involved in U.S. political campaigns, for example.