June 4, 2014
The EXPIRE bill lost a key Senate vote because of politics three weeks ago, not because the bill is unpopular—95 senators are on record supporting it. But after that, some political reporters, lobbyists, staffers, and even a couple senators started hawking the tune that EXPIRE was dead till after the election.
Nothing could be more detrimental to our cause than to credit this kind of speculation that might cause Coalition members to falter in their efforts.
We have all summer, June and July, to pass EXPIRE in the Senate and House. Believing that it’s useless to press on, relaxing our efforts, is the one thing that will surely result in WOTC and other extenders remaining expired till after the election.
It’s the old case of self-fulfilling prophecy—believing it’s useless to act can make us reverse gears in a way that’ll bring about the result we fear—hiatus till after the election. On the other hand, we know from experience that by maintaining momentum, pressing the levers of key senators, Congress can act and do so quickly when it wants to.
The situation of the extenders in the Senate is still strong. The facts are simple, and are here repeated for all. Passing the tax extenders is high priority of the White House and Senate Democrats, and Senator Reid can bring the EXPIRE bill back to the floor for another vote anytime he chooses. It will be useless for him to waste the Senate’s time by doing this before he’s sure he has 60 votes required to break a Republican filibuster. When 60 votes are there, he can bring EXPIRE to the floor, pass cloture, vote on amendments, and then vote on final passage (simple majority needed).
To reach 60, Senator Reid needs the votes of at least six or seven Republicans to join with 55 Democrats and Independents. Right now he’s assured of one Republican—Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, who was the only Republican to vote with Democrats on the last EXPIRE vote. It’s our Coalition’s job to line up those final five or six votes.
This isn’t impossible, especially given the strength of our campaign, with many of us having long and continuing contacts with key Republican senators. You can see at once why we consider it absurd to halt our efforts because someone says it’s all over till after the election. Senator Reid isn’t saying it’s over; he’s saying give me the votes and we’ll pass it.
Have we forgotten what we did last December? At that time, two of the most powerful members of the House and Senate, the chairmen of the Ways and Means and Finance Committees respectively, declared on November 30th they weren’t going to renew WOTC and other extenders because they were detrimental to tax reform. We were outraged and swung into action with all the levers of power—the White House, Senate leaders Reid, Durbin, and Schumer, Senator Harkin of the HELP Committee (for disabled workers), and Senator Sanders of the Veterans Affairs Committee. By December 16th, the situation was completely reversed. We had an extenders bill drawn up and introduced by the Majority Leader himself—the first extenders bill in Congress that year—and more than that, Senator Reid moved to pass it on the floor on December 19th. It failed because Republicans said they wanted a bi-partisan bill. That bi-partisan bill, drawn up in the Finance Committee by Senators Wyden and Hatch, became the EXPIRE bill which passed 95-3 on its first vote last month.
Are we really going to halt now because someone says it’s over till after the election? Some of our employers are going broke for lack of the additional cash from their unprocessed WOTC credits! We need to press ahead to get EXPIRE passed in the next few weeks. Reach out to the Republican senators who are your targets, get them to commit to vote to advance EXPIRE the next time Senator Reid brings the bill to the floor!
The purpose of a lobbying campaign is to make things happen, not blow with the winds. Let’s be clear-eyed, and not be jerked around by speculation or rumor. We’ll halt only when leaders of the Senate or House decide against us—and that’s nowhere near, so we have an open field to our goal.
PAUL E. SUPLIZIO
President, WOTC Coalition