Katie McAuliffe

Grover Norquist Statement In Support Of Reconfirming Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Thursday, September 28th, 2017, 4:59 PM PERMALINK

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, issued the following statement in support of Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai's reconfirmation:

Ajit Pai's confirmation to lead the Federal Communications Commission was second in importance only to Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch's confirmation. 

Under the Obama administration the number of people with quality internet access went down, and rather than work to connect Americans who are completely disconnected from the internet, they used that as an excuse to bring Venezuelan style regulation to the United States.

Ajit Pai's focus on connecting unserved Americans should be applauded not blocked. Your vote to reconfirm Ajit Pai as Chairman of the FCC will ensure that Americans control their own internet experience, not bureaucrats.

Photo Credit: USDA


Stop The FCC's False Privacy Rules


Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Tuesday, March 28th, 2017, 10:17 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform supports using the Congressional Review Act authority to vacate the Federal Communications Commission's false privacy rules.

The rules are an excuse to expand agency power.  There is already a cop on the beat when it comes to privacy, the Federal Trade Commission.  There are already laws on the books governing the use of sensitive consumer data, including health and financial.  

By vacating the rules, we maintain the structure that has successfully protected consumer data while also encouraging innovation and a competitive ad based market for apps and other services.  This market gives consumers more choice often for free.

Read our letter to the House supporting the CRA.

 

Use the CRA to Remove
False Broadband Privacy Rules
 
Grover G. Norquist
President

       
March 27, 2017

RE:  Federal Communications Commission False Privacy Rules 

Dear Congressmen:

I write urging you to use your Congressional Review Act authority to withdraw the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband privacy rules and support the Federal Trade Commission framework for privacy protection.

We should always be wary of regulation for regulation’s sake. Duplicative rules at different agencies often create confusion and added costs without a significant benefit.

The Federal Trade Commission has been policing privacy for the last decade, and there has been no indication that another agency is needed.  The FCC is not needed here.

In a time when our goal is to pare down the cost of government and let taxpayers keep more of their hard earned paycheck, the FCC is no poster child for efficiency.  

FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly pointed out that the FCC, through information gathering requests alone, requires 73 million hours and $800 million just to fill out requests. The Competitive Enterprise Institute found that in FY 2015 the FCC spent around $464 million in regulatory development and enforcement, and it accounts for more than $100 billion annually in regulatory and economic impact.

Please find enclosed a coalition letter from 21 organizations detailing why the FTC rules are the correct approach and our opposition to the FCC rules.  This letter requested that Congress use its Congressional Review Act authority to rescind the broadband privacy rules. It also details why we do not believe the rules will do as they claim. 

Americans value their privacy.  That is why Americans for Tax Reform has been a vocal defender of privacy and the Fourth Amendment. However, the FCC rules use our highly valued privacy as a tool to empower agency regulatory expansion at the expense of consumers.

If you have any questions, please contact Katie McAuliffe by email, kmcauliffe@atr.org, or by phone, 202-785-0266.


Onward,

Grover G. Norquist
 


Enclosure

 
 
21 State & Federal Organizations Support the CRA
 
January 26, 2017

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi 
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
 

Dear Speaker Ryan & Minority Leader Pelosi:

We urge you to use the authority provided in the Congressional Review Act to rescind the Federal
Communications Commission’s Broadband Privacy Order.

Congress is fully justified in rescinding these rules both because the Order lacks proper legal grounding and because of the need to ensure real consumer privacy across contexts of user experience.

The FCC’s approach is inconsistent with that of the Federal Trade Commission for nearly two decades, and will likely render harm unto consumers.

The FTC focuses on what data are held, the level of data sensitivity, and how consumers are affected if the data are misused. This outcomes-based approach takes consumers’ preferences into account while preventing actions that harm consumers.

The FTC’s approach rests on well-established standards of Unfairness (preventing substantial consumer injury) and Deception (enforcing material promises). Consumers generally agree on what constitutes financial and physical injury. Consumers deem data that could lead to these types of injuries more sensitive, and expect higher security for these data.

The sensitivity of other “private” information is, as the FTC rightly recognizes, often subjective, depending on its use. Some people might choose to post everything about themselves online — details that others might find invasive or embarrassing if made public — while others chose not to join social networks. Some might find value in an application using data about their geolocation in a particular way, while others decline participation because they consider the benefit of the service outweighed by its privacy cost. None of these approaches to privacy is incorrect. Each is a personal decision about tradeoffs. Taking varying consumer preferences into account, the FTC’s standards functioned reasonably well, requiring opt-out in most instances and opt-in only for particularly sensitive kinds of data.

The FCC approach focuses on who holds the data, rather than what — and how sensitive — the data are. This hinders services that consumers want while failing to protect sensitive data across contexts.

The FCC's questionable ability to regulate privacy standards, and its narrow view on what constitutes privacy protection, make its rules counterproductive to actual consumer privacy protections. In contrast, the FTC's approach to privacy does a better job of balancing protection of consumers’ privacy online with economic incentives to innovate in consumer products and services.

There are many reasons for Congress to negate these rules: The legality of the Open Internet Order, which these rules are based on, is questionable; the FCC's expanded interpretation of customer proprietary network information from section 222 is incorrect, as it applies specifically to voice services; and sections 201, 202, 303(b), 316 and 705 of the Communications Act also do not give the FCC the authority to enter rules of this nature.

Rescinding the Privacy Order would promote both innovation and effective, consistent privacy protections in over-the-top, application, wireless and wireline markets. It would also send a clear signal that the FCC has lost its way in interpreting the statute Congress gave it. Doing so would not create a gap in privacy protection because the FCC would retain the ability to police privacy practices of broadband companies on a case-by-case basis.

If Congress fails to use the CRA in such a clear-cut case of agency overreach, the statute will fail in its original goal: encouraging regulatory agencies to respect the bounds of Congressional authority.

Sincerely,

Americans for Tax Reform
Digital Liberty 
American Commitment
American Consumer Institute
Caesar Rodeny Institute
Center for Freedom & Prosperity
Center for Individual Freedom
Competitive Enterprise Institute
FreedomWorks
Frontiers of Freedom
International Center for Law & Economics
Institute for Policy Innovation
The Jeffersonian Project
John Locke Foundation
Less Government
The Main Heritage Policy Center
NetCompetition
Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
TechFreedom
 

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ATR Supports the Register of Copyrights Selection & Accountability Act

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Friday, March 24th, 2017, 2:39 PM PERMALINK

The bipartisan, bicameral Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act was introduced today By House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlate (R-Va.), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Americans for Tax Reform supports this legislation that makes the Register of Copyrights a Presidential appointment confirmed by the Senate.   

The following can be attributed to Americans for Tax Reform President, Grover Norquist:
 
"America’s copyrighted industries are the envy of the world and one of our greatest exports. Making the Register a Presidential appointment confirmed by the Senate is the first step in bringing the Office up-to-speed with the modern booming copyright industry. In America we protect people’s property and respect originality. We don’t praise plagiarism. We value the real McCoy."
 
The following can be attributed to Executive Director of Digital Liberty, Katie McAuliffe:
 
"By elevating the position, we raise the profile of the Copyright office within the United States government and around the world.  It shows that we recognize the importance of copyright to the United States’ and global economies. Countries that recognize and protect property rights, including copyright, have stronger economies that attract business investment, research and development. Its not a surprise that people and businesses prefer governments that don’t steal their stuff."

The Copyright Office needs autonomy to carry out its mission going forward. Designating the register of Copyrights as a Presidential appointment confirmed by the Senate is the first step in achieving that goal.

See ATR's comments on Copyright Office Modernization here.

Photo Credit: Motion Picture Association of America

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Grover Norquist supports Sen. Flake's CRA on FCC privacy rules

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017, 10:34 AM PERMALINK

ATR President Grover Norquist welcomes Sen. Flake's (R-AZ) proposal for using the CRA to rescind the FCC's false broadband privacy rules. In a recent letter to Congress, Norquist outlines the costs of additional FCC rules and regulations for American taxpayers and consumers and explains why the FTC maintains the correct approach to privacy protection.

The letter in full is written below:

"Dear Senators:
 
I write urging you to use your Congressional Review Act authority to withdraw the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband privacy rules and support the Federal Trade Commission framework for privacy protection.
 
We should always be wary of regulation for regulation’s sake. Duplicative rules at different agencies often create confusion and added costs without a significant benefit.
 
The Federal Trade Commission has been policing privacy for the last decade, and there has been no indication that other agencies are needed. The FCC is not needed here.
 
At a time when our goal is to pare down the cost of government and let taxpayers keep more of their hard-earned paychecks, the FCC is no poster child for efficiency. 
 
FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly has pointed out that the FCC, through information gathering requests alone, requires 73 million hours and $800 million just to fill out requests. The Competitive Enterprise Institute found that in FY 2015 the FCC spent around $464 million in regulatory development and enforcement, and it accounts for more than $100 billion annually in regulatory and economic impact.
 
Please find enclosed a coalition letter from 21 organizations detailing why the FTC rules are the correct approach, and our opposition to the FCC rules. This letter requested that Congress use its Congressional Review Act authority to rescind the broadband privacy rules. It also details why we do not believe the rules will do as they claim.
 
Americans value their privacy.  That is why Americans for Tax Reform has been a vocal defender of privacy and the Fourth Amendment. However, the FCC rules use our highly valued privacy as a tool to empower agency regulatory expansion at the expense of consumers.
 
If you have any questions, please contact Katie McAuliffe by email, kmcauliffe@atr.org, or by phone, 202-785-0266."

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Free Market Groups Ask Congress to Rescind FCC Privacy Rules

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Thursday, January 26th, 2017, 12:00 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform along with a coalition of other free market groups sent a letter to House and Senate Leadership asking them to use their Congressional Review Act Authority to rescind the FCC Privacy rules.

Please see the text of the letter below and a link to the letter on ATR's website here

January 26, 2017

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi 
Democratic Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Democratic Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Ryan, Majority Leader McConnell, Leader Pelosi and Leader Schumer:

We urge you to use the authority provided in the Congressional Review Act to rescind the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Privacy Order.

Congress is fully justified in rescinding these rules both because the Order lacks proper legal grounding and because of the need to ensure real consumer privacy across contexts of user experience.

The FCC’s approach is inconsistent with that of the Federal Trade Commission for nearly two decades, and will likely render harm unto consumers.

The FTC focuses on what data are held, the level of data sensitivity, and how consumers are affected if the data are misused. This outcomes-based approach takes consumers’ preferences into account while preventing actions that harm consumers.

The FTC’s approach rests on well-established standards of Unfairness (preventing substantial consumer injury) and Deception (enforcing material promises). Consumers generally agree on what constitutes financial and physical injury. Consumers deem data that could lead to these types of injuries more sensitive, and expect higher security for these data.

The sensitivity of other “private” information is, as the FTC rightly recognizes, often subjective, depending on its use. Some people might choose to post everything about themselves online — details that others might find invasive or embarrassing if made public — while others chose not to join social networks. Some might find value in an application using data about their geolocation in a particular way, while others decline participation because they consider the benefit of the service outweighed by its privacy cost. None of these approaches to privacy is incorrect. Each is a personal decision about tradeoffs. Taking varying consumer preferences into account, the FTC’s standards functioned reasonably well, requiring opt-out in most instances and opt-in only for particularly sensitive kinds of data.

The FCC approach focuses on who holds the data, rather than what — and how sensitive — the data are.  This hinders services that consumers want while failing to protect sensitive data across contexts.

The FCC's questionable ability to regulate privacy standards, and its narrow view on what constitutes privacy protection, make its rules counterproductive to actual consumer privacy protections. In contrast, the FTC's approach to privacy does a better job of balancing protection of consumers’ privacy online with economic incentives to innovate in consumer products and services.

There are many reasons for Congress to negate these rules: The legality of the Open Internet Order, which these rules are based on, is questionable; the FCC's expanded interpretation of customer proprietary network information from section 222 is incorrect, as it applies specifically to voice services; and sections 201, 202, 303(b), 316 and 705 of the Communications Act also do not give the FCC the authority to enter rules of this nature.

Rescinding the Privacy Order would promote both innovation and effective, consistent privacy protections in over-the-top, application, wireless and wireline markets. It would also send a clear signal that the FCC has lost its way in interpreting the statute Congress gave it. Doing so would not create a gap in privacy protection because the FCC would retain the ability to police privacy practices of broadband companies on a case-by-case basis.

If Congress fails to use the CRA in such a clear-cut case of agency overreach, the statute will fail in its original goal: encouraging regulatory agencies to respect the bounds of Congressional authority.

 Sincerely,

Americans for Tax Reform

Digital Liberty

American Commitment

American Consumer Institute

Caesar Rodeny Institute

Center for Freedom & Prosperity

Center for Individual Freedom

Competitive Enterprise Institute

FreedomWorks

Frontiers of Freedom

International Center for Law & Economics

Institute for Policy Innovation

The Jeffersonian Project

John Locke Foundation

Less Government

The Main Heritage Policy Center

NetCompetition

Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs

Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Taxpayers Protection Alliance

TechFreedom

 

Photo Credit: jeanbaptisteparis

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A 2-2 FCC is a Loss for the Trump Administration and Republicans

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Thursday, December 8th, 2016, 2:47 PM PERMALINK

Our previous article pointed out Wheeler's bad behavior and his likelihood of staying on the FCC, but the primary point is that a Rosenworcel re-nomination deadlocks the FCC and delays forward progress. 

Without Rosenworcel's re-nomination there is still hope for a 1-2 FCC.

Chairman Wheeler does not get to negotiate with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over who will be on the FCC.  Playing into Wheeler's game where  he will step down "if it helps Rosenworcel get renominated" means Wheeler is still deciding the outcome. 

If commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel is re-nominated and confirmed before president-elect Trump takes office the FCC will definitely sit at a 2-2 dead lock.  This split slows down the ability of the new Commission to pursue its deregulatory vision.

This is a real midnight move to control the Internet.  If Rosenworcel is re-nominated, the best Trump and the Republicans can hope for is a 2-2 FCC. The worst is a 3-2 democrat controlled FCC.

A Republican majority FCC is still possible sooner rather than later as long as Rosenworcel is not re-nominated.

If Rosenworcel returns to the Commission now, the next most likely scenario is that the new Republican nominated to the FCC will be held up until July when Commissioner MignonClyburn’s term ends.

If Republicans don’t nominate their new pick as a pair, it will be easy for the “clicktivist” left to turn the nomination into a circus.  The next nominee will be framed as the decider of the future of the Internet.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cannot let this go through.  This is no time to be negotiating with Harry Reid and Obama as they walk out the door.

No midnight nominations. 

President Trump should have both a Democrat and a Republican spot open for nominations when he takes office.

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ATR Calls for House Vote on Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act (HR 1643)

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, 4:30 PM PERMALINK

Today President of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, sent Speaker Paul Ryan, and House Judiciary Chairman, Bob Goodlatte, a letter requesting House leadership to bring the Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act (HR 1643) to the House floor for a vote:

Numerous states have expanded the definition of a good or service through the various departments of revenue or other administrative bodies, bypassing the elected state legislators altogether. There must be a mechanism in place to hold these policymakers accountable to their constituents.

This bill protects American consumers and taxpayers from predatory double taxation measures and holds elected representatives accountable to their constituents.

Over 87% of Americans access the Internet through various media, and over 200 million Internet users made online purchases in 2015.

Because the advancement of technology is progressing faster than reforms to our tax code, the law surround digital goods and services is outdated and leaves the door open to a single transaction being taxed numerous times.

This threatens the economic stability of consumers and businesses across the nation.

States that impose sales tax on online sales, or sales that take place across state borders harm our democracy. These laws create scenarios for consumers, where their purchases of digital goods could be taxed many times.

For example, a customer based in Nebraska, who purchases a digital good from California, where the transaction goes through a server in Wyoming, could be subject to taxation from three different states. There is no precedent for this harmful behavior.

These digital taxes are already appearing across the country at an alarming rate. States like California are levying taxes on streaming services like Netflix. States like New MexicoVermont, and South Dakota are also planning such taxes, which will harm consumers in those states.

Thankfully, HR 1643 clarifies the requirement for tax jurisdiction, and eliminates the patchwork of legislation that makes it impossible to navigate the current digital tax code. This bipartisan piece of legislation establishes a road map to ensure that digital goods and services are treated fairly around the country.

Read the full letter.

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Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist Statement on FCC Set Top Box Rule Delay


Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Friday, September 30th, 2016, 2:51 PM PERMALINK

The Federal Communications Commission has repeatedly designed rules that will allow them to insert themselves in between consumers and their video content.  

The FCC has tried to justify its rule-making by arguing that cable television "set top boxes", drive up costs, saying that we need more competition.  But the FCC overreach went beyond this claim. The FCC is demanding part of the control of the program licensing process.  Ominously, no one has yet seen the actual rules that would grant them this power.  

As the FCC final vote has drawn closer the opposition among Americans has intensified.

Still, no one has seen these rules that were about to become regulation.  Under increasing pressure, Chairman Tom Wheeler was forced to delay the vote; delayed, not rejected.

Even with the uproar, Chairman Wheeler insists that the vote will still happen and without public comment.

The following can be attributed to Grover Norquist:

It is good news that the FCC has announced it will "delay" a vote on its regulations regarding 'set top box' rules.  This delay is the result of public opposition and anger at the lack of transparency.

The demand for transparency is non-negotiable.

It is the law that the public have time to comment on proposed rules before a vote, and significant change requires public comment as well.

It hard to believe the proposed rules haven't changed drastically from the first round put out for public comment.

The call for transparency isn't just a request; it is the law.  I hope the FCC decides to follow the law this time.

 

Sign the petition asking the FCC for transparency here:  

Stop The Federal Government from Getting between You and Your TV

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Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: The Mobile Workforce State Income Simplification Act


Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Monday, September 19th, 2016, 2:43 PM PERMALINK

On Friday, September 6th, Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to Congressmen in support of the Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act, HR 2315. ATR urges Congress to vote in favor of this bill to establish clear boundaries and presence standards based on a state’s physical border. As the digital world makes us increasingly more mobile, this bill will prevent states from taxing out-of-state residents.

The full letter can be found below, and here.

Dear Congressmen:

On behalf of American taxpayers, I write in support of the Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act, H.R 2315, which establishes a clear and consistent physical presence standard for employee income tax reporting.

This legislation, introduced by Congressmen Mike Bishop and Hank Johnson, passed the House Judiciary Committee with a reported vote of 23 yeas and 4 nays.

It is important to establish a physical presence standard for the American workforce particularly as technology allows us to be even more mobile.  Establishing clear borders based on a state’s physical border will be even more important as technologies take us beyond telework and towards the possibilities of telemedicine and advanced education.

When an employee travels from one state to the next, there are varying rules throughout the 50 states as to when an employee’s income tax needs to be reported by an employer and paid by the employee.  

For example, Colorado will tax any income earned within the state if an individual has worked there at least one day.  Hawaii and Arizona require withholding for work that exceeds 60 days. Other states do not use a time requirement at all, but tax based on a specific dollar figure earned while in the state.

Most individuals are not aware of the varying non-resident state income tax filing rules, and employers incur extraordinary expenses to comply with withholding requirements.  

This is especially difficult for those able to offer support in the event of a natural disaster. People with specialized skills - doctors, nurses, electricians, arborists, decontamination crews, etc. - are in high demand following these events.  These skills are not bound by location; they can mobilize to accelerate healing and repairs for a community after a disaster.

H.R. 2315 establishes a clear physical presence standard for cross-border work by keeping states from taxing most nonresident employees until the employee is present and working in the state for more than 30 days during the year.  This minimizes bureaucratic hurdles, allows employees to keep more of their own paycheck, and simplifies tax compliance.

I encourage Congress to support American workers with clear consistent tax collection boundaries based on a state’s physical borders. 

If you should have any questions regarding this issue please contact me, or Katie McAuliffe at kmcauliffe@atr.org or 202-785-0266.

Onward,

Grover G. Norquist

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Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: Business Income Taxes


Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Wednesday, September 14th, 2016, 1:26 PM PERMALINK

Today, Americans for Tax Reform sent an open letter to Congressmen in support of the Business Activity Tax Simplification Act (BATSA), HR 2584. ATR urges Congress to vote in favor of this bill to reiterate the fact that states do not have the authority to tax outside of their own borders, as well as to continue to take steps to strengthen the physical nexus standard.

 

The full letter can be read below, as well as here:

 

Dear Congressmen:

On behalf of American taxpayers, I write in support of the Business Activity Tax Simplification Act (BATSA), H.R 2584, which reiterates that states do not have the authority to tax outside of their own borders.

States are adopting policies that force new tax liability onto those with a mere “economic nexus.” Codified in many different forms across the country, the economic standard grants nebulous authority to force out-of-state, nonresidents to comply with a state’s tax code.

The gradual shift to economic nexus is an attempt by states to raise tax revenue beyond what their own economies and taxpayers can sustain. Economic nexus poses a direct threat to the principles of democracy and republican governance by the people, shifting the cost of government to non-residents.

BATSA promotes inter-state economic activity by eliminating the burden for businesses of having to comply with varying and complex state income tax laws. It establishes a clear physical presence standard for taxing multistate businesses engaged in cross-border transactions.

Congress has well-established Constitutional authority to protect against economically destructive state tax laws.

As Congress reiterates to wayward states that digital borders are no broader than physical borders, BATSA could not come at a more critical juncture. 

This legislation, introduced by Reps. Steve Chabot and Bobby Scott, passed the House Judiciary Committee with a reported vote of 18 yeas and 7 nays. 

I encourage Congress to avoid attempts to weaken the physical nexus standard, and to continue taking steps that strengthen physical nexus by passing the Business Activity Tax Simplification Act.

If you should have any questions regarding this issue please contact me, or Katie McAuliffe at kmcauliffe@atr.org or 202-785-0266.

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