The Highway Bill is on the way to the House floor for passage this week. That means this week it will be sent to the Senate.
The Senate could take it up but we think Senator Reid will spend next week talking to Senator McConnell about a larger bargain backed by the White House—substituting the Senate version of the Highway bill and attaching unemployment compensation and EXPIRE tax extenders to the bill.
A two-year, retroactive extension of WOTC to the end of 2015 is included in the EXPIRE bill that originally passed the Senate 95-3. The bill has been hung up since by a political quarrel over amendments to bills.
What’s clear is that EXPIRE, as originally approved by the Senate Finance Committee, has the support of 95 senators. The simplest and easiest route to enactment in present circumstances is to pass the original EXPIRE bill without amendments—either as a stand-alone bill or on the Highway bill.
The urgency of the Highway bill makes it our best opportunity to get WOTC passed by attaching EXPIRE to that bill. That way it can get through the Senate without debate and have a better chance of passing the House than a stand-alone bill.
The main obstacle in the Senate to attaching the original EXPIRE bill to the Highway Bill, or passing it solo, are Senator McConnell and the majority of Republican senators.
This is the last week we’ll have to get in touch with your Republican senators, preferably in person, and tell them your information is that Senator Reid would be more than happy to pass the tax extenders without any amendments if Senator McConnell and the Republican caucus will agree (these are Senator Reid’s own words).
Tell them the Highway bill presents a good opportunity, so why not pass EXPIRE on that bill? It has the advantage of speedily passing a bill that 95 senators agree to—a stand-alone EXPIRE bill would use up floor time the Senate doesn’t have now that appropriations bills are coming up.
Tell them to look no farther than today’s Wall Street Journal for the deplorable state of the nation’s labor market. WOTC could be placing 250,000 workers a quarter into jobs, but the WOTC program is a shambles—eligible workers, most of whom are on food stamps, are finding fewer job opportunities so more people are staying on food stamps or welfare longer, costing the government billions; States stopped processing new hires on January 1 so their processing backlog is growing; and states where employers continued hiring eligible workers are losing millions of dollars of extra liquidity (after-tax cash) they might have had if they could claim their credits for this year’s hires.
Remind them both Democrats and Republicans agree these provisions have long been in the tax code and continuation of current policy—by extending EXPIRE “as is”—doesn’t add to the deficit—it’s impact on Federal revenues will be little different next year from this year. As a result, the extenders’ cost doesn’t have to be offset.
Say, “The way Senator________can help is by going to Senator McConnell and urging him to pass EXPIRE on the Highway bill. Will he do it?”
Thank you for making this decisive push. Everyone should understand if we can’t get EXPIRE passed before the August recess it’s highly likely we’ll have to wait until Thanksgiving to enact it.
PAUL E. SUPLIZIO
President, WOTC Coalition