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Hatch Ratified as Senate Finance Committee Chairman

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Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was officially ratified Thursday by the Senate Republican Conference to serve as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Noting in a statement that he was “deeply honored by the faith” of his colleagues in selecting him as chairman, Hatch said that “whether it’s taxes, trade, health care or the nation’s entitlement programs, our committee legislates on federal policies that impact the pocketbooks and well-being of each and every American.”

The Senate Finance Committee has the largest jurisdiction in either House of Congress, overseeing more than 50% of the federal budget, and has jurisdiction over tax, trade and health care policy.

Hatch takes over the chairmanship from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who will become the committee’s ranking member.

Besides the need for Congress to “get back to work and advance an aggressive pro-growth agenda that will strengthen the middle class, reward hard-working taxpayers, create new jobs, and reignite the economy,” Hatch said that lawmakers “must accept the challenge of bipartisan tax reform in earnest.”

The U.S. tax code, he said, needs to be “simpler, fairer and more efficient.” 

Hatch has also called for corporate tax reform, calling it the “best way” to stop corporate inversions.

Political strategist Greg Valliere noted in his Thursday commentary that he believes the chances that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who’s set to be the next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, can get a corporate tax reform plan through Ways and Means this year are about 70%. The chances that such legislation will be signed into law this year: “25%, a long slog is likely,” Valliere, of Potomac Research, said.   

As to the chance that final anti-corporate inversion regs will be issued by the Treasury Department by spring: 80%, Valliere said.

Lawmakers, Hatch said in his Thursday statement, must also “act to tear down barriers to international trade and increase market access for American goods and services.”

He vowed that his committee “will continue with its efforts to implement common-sense solutions to improve health care coverage” in the nation, saying, “The higher premiums and fewer choices brought on by Obamacare is not what the American people were promised. We need to empower American families with patient-centered reforms that will lower costs and increase high-quality care.”

Steps must also be taken to “strengthen the nation’s safety-net programs — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — to help guarantee their solvency for future generations,” Hatch said.

Another priority for Hatch in the New Year will be to halt progress on the Department of Labor’s rule to amend the definition of fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Hatch said in mid-December that he plans to reintroduce in 2015 his Secure Annuities for Employee Retirement (SAFE) Act, which includes language that would stop the Department of Labor from writing fiduciary rules for individual retirement accounts. 

Sen. Hatch’s 2015 Priority: Torpedo DOL Fiduciary Efforts on ThinkAdvisor.