Senate votes to kill estate tax, backs state water rights

By Philip Brasher

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, March 26, 2015 - In a message-sending vote, the Senate endorsed killing the estate tax, but the Republican majority could attract the support of just one Democrat.

The 54-46 vote came on one of a series of non-binding amendments to the Senate budget resolution. The “vote-a-rama” allowed the parties to force one another to go on the record on a wide variety of uncomfortable issues.

Lets Talk Food

Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was the lone Democrat to support the amendment, while one Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, voted against it.

The sponsor, John Thune, R-S.D., said the tax “hits farmers particularly hard” and amounted to an “unfair double tax” on families. But Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., said that ending the tax would only benefit the “very, very wealthiest people.”

Notably, no farm-state Democrat voted for the amendment, suggesting the issue isn't as potent as it once might have been. The measure was one of hundreds of amendments that senators filed before and during the vote-a-rama.

The Senate also approved, 59-41, an amendment by Cory Gardner, R-Colo., endorsing the supremacy of state water law. The amendment was intended to protect farmers, ranchers and others that rely on privately held water rights and permits from federal takings.

[Keep up with news from Capitol Hill as it happens. Sign up for a four-week FREE trial of Agri-Pulse. ] 
Five Democrats supported the amendment, including Michael Bennet of Colorado, Jon Tester of Montana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

Gardner mentioned the Forest Service, the Department of the Interior and the USDA as agencies that have tried to seek water rights and bypass flows. Federal agencies are trying to “impose a water right at the federal level without going through the same channels and the same water law system that other people in Colorado do," he said.

The House passed similar legislation sponsored by Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., last year, prohibiting federal agencies from implementing a permit condition that requires the transfer of privately held water rights to the federal government in order to receive or renew a permit for the use of land.

Also approved, 52-42, was an amendment that sponsor Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said called on the Fish and Wildlife Service to consider the "full economic impact" of preserving critical habitat for endangered species. The ranking Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Barbara Boxer of California, said the measure was a backdoor attempt to gut the Endangered Species Act.

(Sarah Gonzalez contributed to this report.)

#30

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
blog comments powered by Disqus
 Most Popular