Effort to Pass Tax Extenders Bill by Unanimous Consent in Senate Rejected

December 20, 2013 02:25 AM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Rejection expected | Finance panel members to markup bill in 2014

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

A largely symbolic move to renew dozens of tax extenders, including the biodiesel tax incentive, failed in the Senate after an objection by Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.), but Senate Finance Committee members said they plan to push for a bill of their own. But the issue will resurface in early 2014, based on comments by key senators.

The Democratic motion would have extended all 57 of the tax breaks collectively referred to as extenders, including the $1 biodiesel tax incentive. Any single senator may stop a request by unanimous consent to set aside a rule, and the strategy to move forward the tax extenders bill in such a manner was expected to fail. Senate Republicans took issue that the bill (S 1859) was brought before the full Senate without first moving through the Finance Committee.

Importantly, Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) hinted that the Senate Finance Committee would produce its own extenders package soon. "With regard to tax extenders, Finance Committee staff, from both parties, have in the past few days started the process of developing tax extenders legislation," Hatch said.

But neither Hatch nor Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) would commit to a timetable for bringing forward another extenders package when the Senate reconvenes in January 2014. Hatch said it could happen before Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) steps down as chairman. Wyden may become the new Finance chairman if, as expected, President Obama nominates Baucus to be the next ambassador to China, leaving his chairmanship position open. Wyden is a long-time supporter of renewing many of the tax extenders. Hatch said he will support extender extension language as long as it cuts what he called unnecessary spending. But Hatch declined to identify which provisions he would prefer to see sunset rather than be renewed.

Of note, Sen. Wyden on Thursday endorsed the energy tax overhaul floated by Baucus, while calling for Congress to extend expiring provisions while it pursues a broader overhaul of the code: "Until the Congress takes the prudent step of broad-based tax reform of our tax system, the American people should not be left hanging," Wyden said. "We ought to minimize the roller coaster of uncertainty that has been a drag on growth in recent years."

Also, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) signaled he will push to extend a host of expiring provisions in January by adding to the Senate calendar the extenders package (S 1859) he tried to pass by unanimous consent yesterday.

Comments: It is unclear at this time as to whether or not any tax extender extensions will have to have budget offsets. 

My initial prediction is that most of the tax incentives, including biodiesel, will be extended but it could take until a post-election, lame-duck session of Congress to do so.



NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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