One issue that could move thorough Congress is the “tax extenders” package extending about 50 tax provisions that expired at the end of last year. On April 29, the House Ways and Means Committee approved six separate bills to make permanent a select group of the expired business tax provisions, including the R&D Credit, the active financing exception under Subpart F, and the controlled foreign corporation (CFC) look-through rule. The cost of the Committee bills approaches $317 billion on a ten year basis without corresponding tax or spending reduction offsets.
The House has now passed the popular R&D bill. Ways and Means Chairman Camp (R-MI) has not announced plans for the Committee to consider additional bills addressing the other expired tax provisions.
In contrast to the House approach of moving selected permanent bills on a piecemeal basis, the Senate Finance Committee ordered reported a two-year retroactive extension, for 2014 and 2015, of almost all of the provisions that expired at the end of last year. The extension legislation has a two-year revenue cost of $84 billion with any offsets.
Again, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid formally blocked all floor amendments to the extender tax bill -- setting up another series of procedural votes amid continuing tension over floor procedure. The Reid move put the legislation in jeopardy despite its substantial bipartisan support.
Following on the heels of the Shaheen-Portman, Reid's blocking of GOP amendments to the tax extenders bill further enraged the minority party and led Republicans, in protest, to block the extender legislation. The GOP vote last Thursday blocked the extender legislation in protest over a longstanding Democratic policy. Sixty votes were needed to invoke cloture. Even though the bill enjoyed wide bipartisan backing, the measure fell short of cloture by seven votes.
It is too soon say the legislation will be buried as many members -- including many Republicans -- support it. Both sides appear eager to resuscitate the tax bill and will likely work behind the scenes on an amendment deal and eventual Senate passage. Senators from both parties have filed a long list of amendments; the question is will any of them be considered?
I do not like the concept of extenders and would not vote to prolong the life of any of the expiring provisions. I believe they should be part of tax reform and be appointed into law by their merits. The sneaky budget gimmicks each year are dishonest and a fraud. However, I do believe in debate and voting, something the Senate Leadership obviously does not.