WASHINGTON, May 15, 2014 – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., says he’ll keep pushing for Senate passage of an $84 billion tax cut bill, which failed to clear a procedural hurdle Thursday amid Republican opposition.
The vote on the bill, which includes a wide variety of tax break, including a measure that would raise the amount farmers could expense on equipment purchases, failed on a 53-40 vote, with 60 needed to go forward.
Republican said they voted against the bill because they were excluded from offering any amendments, including one that was aimed at an Obamacare medical device tax. In the past, similar bills extending tax breaks have passed with little opposition.
“Today the Senate voted to punish innovators, punish small businesses, punish homeowners who are underwater with their mortgages, punish returning veterans looking for jobs, and punish students already struggling to pay for college tuition,” Wyden said in a statement. He pledged to “find a path forward,” working with senators on both sides of the aisle, adding that he was “open to narrowly related amendments.”
Wyden’s bill would allow small businesses, including farms, to expense up to $500,000 of equipment costs right away. If Congress fails to pass the measure, the limit will fall to $25,000. The bill also would revive a slew of tax breaks for, among other things, research and development, for production of alternative and renewable fuels, and for small businesses that hire veterans or the long-term unemployed.
There is concern now that the bill – dubbed the “Expire Act” because the tax breaks would expire after two years – will languish until after the mid-term elections in November. Wyden said that would be unfortunate.
“Despite today’s actions, the Expire Act continues to be critical and timely legislation that we have to get done.”
The Finance Committee’s ranking member, Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said a long delay would be an unfortunate risk, but he said Republicans had to take a stand.
“Don’t we care a little more about freedom and the right to bring up your amendments in the process,” Hatch told Politico. “We’ve always had rights around here, that’s what the whole thing is about. It’s not trying to stop this bill. It’s saying, ‘Look, we’ve had enough of this crap.’”
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