Senate votes to kill estate tax, backs state water rights
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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.
Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was the lone Democrat to support the amendment, while one Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, voted against it.
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.
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.
(Sarah Gonzalez contributed to this report.)