Republicans Might Let Tax-Extenders Bill Move Forward

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) speaks on Capitol Hill October 12, 2011 in Washington, DC. Senate Republicans spoke to reporters briefly after attending their weekly Senate Republican Policy Committee closed luncheon meeting. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
National Journal
Michael Catalini
May 14, 2014, 3:29 p.m.

Usu­ally when Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id pre­vents Re­pub­lic­ans from of­fer­ing amend­ments, GOP sen­at­ors block the un­der­ly­ing bill. At least, that was how Re­pub­lic­ans handled the re­cently dis­patched en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency bill, which went down earli­er this week.

But there are signs that even if Re­id blocks amend­ments on le­gis­la­tion to ex­tend ex­pired tax pro­vi­sions, known as tax ex­tenders, Re­pub­lic­ans won’t pre­vent the bill from com­ing to the floor.

“There’s prob­ably a lot more sup­port among Re­pub­lic­ans for tax ex­tenders than there per­haps was for en­ergy ef­fi­ciency,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the cham­ber’s No. 3 Re­pub­lic­an.

The dif­fer­ence, ac­cord­ing to law­makers, is that some of the roughly 60 pro­vi­sions in the tax-ex­tenders pack­age be­ne­fit con­stitu­ents in some way. Thune also said that mem­bers view ex­tend­ing cur­rent tax policy dif­fer­ently than they do en­act­ing new en­ergy le­gis­la­tion.

“I just think you’re talk­ing about tax policy,” Thune said. “You’re talk­ing about ex­tend­ing tax policy. And many of them are things that our mem­bers are sup­port­ive of.”

Of course, there are some pro­vi­sions in the bill that Re­pub­lic­ans op­pose. “So it’s hard to say at this point how that vote might go,” Thune said. “But I wouldn’t ne­ces­sar­ily guar­an­tee that it’s gonna turn out the same way that the en­ergy [ef­fi­ciency] clo­ture vote did.”

GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Car­o­lina said that wheth­er he votes for the un­der­ly­ing meas­ure de­pends on wheth­er Re­id al­lows amend­ments, but that he ex­pects there is enough sup­port in the con­fer­ence for the meas­ure to clear pro­ced­ur­al hurdles.

“What they’ve said is there’s so much stuff in there that is ne­ces­sary to move our eco­nomy for­ward that per­haps this isn’t the time to make a philo­soph­ic­al or pro­cess stand,” Scott said.

At the same time, con­ser­vat­ive groups are mak­ing the case that this is pre­cisely the time to take a stand against ex­tend­ing the tax pro­vi­sions. Her­it­age Ac­tion, the Club for Growth, and Freedom­Works have each come out against the Ex­pire Act, as the le­gis­la­tion is known.

The prob­lem, some con­ser­vat­ives ar­gue, is that the tax ex­tenders be­ne­fit spe­cial in­terests, rather than the tax­pay­ing pub­lic over­all.

“That ap­proach to le­gis­lat­ing is how our tax code be­came so con­vo­luted in the first place,” Her­it­age Ac­tion spokes­man Dan Holler said in a state­ment. “Com­pre­hens­ive, pro-growth tax re­form will re­main elu­sive un­til it be­comes clear to spe­cial in­terests their favored pro­vi­sions are no longer sac­rosanct.”

But Re­pub­lic­ans who sound sup­port­ive of let­ting the le­gis­la­tion move for­ward aren’t fazed by the con­ser­vat­ive head­winds.

“Dif­fer­ent or­gan­iz­a­tions are go­ing to come to dif­fer­ent con­clu­sions,” Thune said. “You’re gonna have an aw­ful lot of sup­port from the busi­ness com­munity.”

In­deed, there are con­ser­vat­ive groups back­ing the le­gis­la­tion. Amer­ic­ans for Tax Re­form, the group headed by Grover Nor­quist, and the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce are among them. They want to see the ex­tenders fol­ded in­to a broad­er over­haul of the tax code, but ar­gue they help busi­nesses and fam­il­ies in the mean­time.

“For now, though, the man­date for the Sen­ate is clear: Do no harm,” Amer­ic­ans for Tax Re­form said in a state­ment.

Even if the meas­ure gets through the Sen­ate, it will stall in the House, which is con­sid­er­ing the pro­vi­sions dis­cretely, rather than in a single pack­age.

Ac­tion on the bill isn’t ex­pec­ted to wrap up un­til next week, aides said, and in the mean­time Re­pub­lic­ans have not ceased call­ing for amend­ments, with lead­ers say­ing they ex­pect a re­peal of the med­ic­al-device tax will be offered.

Thune has in­tro­duced eight amend­ments, in­clud­ing sev­er­al Obama­care meas­ures and one that would make the state and loc­al sales-tax de­duc­tion per­man­ent. In ad­di­tion, Re­pub­lic­an Sens. Jeff Flake of Ari­zona and Lamar Al­ex­an­der of Ten­ness­ee said they plan to jointly of­fer an amend­ment to re­peal the wind-en­ergy tax cred­it.

Even so, Re­pub­lic­ans are already ex­pect­ing Re­id to re­buff their ef­forts to amend the le­gis­la­tion.

Sen. Jeff Ses­sions of Alabama said he hasn’t de­cided wheth­er he’ll vote against pro­ced­ur­al meas­ures if Re­pub­lic­ans are not al­lowed amend­ments, but he poin­ted out that do­ing so has been the norm for him.

“This is so con­trary to the her­it­age of the Sen­ate, no mat­ter what the is­sue is be­fore us,” Ses­sions said. “We’ve got to end this.”

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
When It Comes to Mining Asteroids, Technology Is Only the First Problem
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Obama Reflects on His Economic Record
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Reagan Families, Allies Lash Out at Will Ferrell
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."

Source:
PEAK CONFIDENCE
Clinton No Longer Running Primary Ads
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-ex­pec­ted primary battle be­hind her, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) is no longer go­ing on the air in up­com­ing primary states. “Team Clin­ton hasn’t spent a single cent in … Cali­for­nia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Ore­gon and West Vir­gin­ia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “cam­paign has spent a little more than $1 mil­lion in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone back­er in the Sen­ate, said the can­did­ate should end his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign if he’s los­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton after the primary sea­son con­cludes in June, break­ing sharply with the can­did­ate who is vow­ing to take his in­sur­gent bid to the party con­ven­tion in Phil­adelphia.”

Source:
CITIZENS UNITED PT. 2?
Movie Based on ‘Clinton Cash’ to Debut at Cannes
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."

Source:
×