U.S. senators will take their first major test vote today on a package of more than $80 billion in tax breaks, and the outcome is uncertain.
Republicans, who support many of the provisions in the bill, are complaining about Democrats’ refusal to allow them to offer amendments. Democrats say the bill must advance to prevent a tax increase.
"If you don’t renew that provision, the research and development credit, in effect, today, the Senate will be voting to raise taxes on innovation," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said on Bloomberg Television.
The bill would revive dozens of tax breaks that lapsed on Dec. 31 and extend them through 2015, including the ability for companies such as Citigroup Inc. to defer U.S. taxes on overseas financing income and a provision that lets individuals deduct state sales taxes.
The bill doesn’t include spending cuts or tax increases to offset the $84.1 billion effect on the budget deficit.
Today’s procedural vote, scheduled for 1:45 p.m., Washington time, requires at least 60 senators to support it, which means that at least five Republicans must join with Democrats.
Final passage wouldn’t occur until next week, and the Republican-controlled House has been taking a different approach to the issue.
Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa said he hasn’t decided whether to join Democrats to advance the bill.
Grassley, who supports many of the tax breaks in the bill, including the production tax credit for wind energy, said he won’t make up his mind until closer to the vote. Republicans and Democrats will be holding separate party meetings before the vote.