Senate Finance Committee today approved a Wyden-Hatch bi-partisan Highway bill without including WOTC and other EXPIRE tax extenders.
Ways and Means Committee also approved the House version of the Highway bill—which is different from the Senate’s—over united Democratic opposition.
In the Senate, WOTC and EXPIRE fell to Chairman Wyden’s aim to reach agreement with Republicans on a bi-partisan bill. In today’s brief markup the Chairman and Ranking Republican announced they had reached agreement on highway funding till year-end, then Democrats and Republicans voted to approve their deal.
Senator Wyden’s amendment to add EXPIRE tax extenders to the bill was still on his amendment list, but it wasn’t offered at the markup. Why? We know Senator Wyden is a strong supporter of WOTC and EXPIRE, but with time pressing he chose to work for a bill Republicans could support. To add the extenders he needed a green light from Senator McConnell and Senator Hatch, and that never came.
We’ve been urging WOTC renewal for 18 months and the situation is deplorable—states are sitting on thousands of employer certifications and letting their backlogs grow, while employers who faithfully hire WOTC-eligible workers are deprived of billions of dollars of extra liquidity they could use in their businesses at a moment the economy is teetering on a knife’s-edge.
Our goal is to keep Senator Reid and the White House pushing for EXPIRE while continuing to lobby Senate Republicans to urge their leader to work with Democrats to get EXPIRE passed by the end of the month.
EXPIRE could be a stand-alone bill, it could be added to the Highway bill on the Senate floor, or it could be added to the Emergency Immigration Supplemental that’s moving through appropriations committees now. EXPIRE can be passed quickly if the will is there.
We need to activate our White House connections with Senator Reid, Senator McConnell, and Speaker Boehner to keep pressing for EXPIRE in their talks on what bills to pass the rest of the month. They’ll be talking non-stop till the recess.
Passing EXPIRE is on the White House and congressional Democrats’ agenda, we’re getting help there. It’s support of House and Senate Republicans we lack, and they can block action. We aren’t blaming anyone for the impasse—both sides have their reasons— but we have to deal with the facts: Democrats are largely with us, making Republicans the key to keeping WOTC alive.
Leaders like Senator McConnell and Speaker Boehner are in the business of listening to their members—if we want the leaders to move we’ve got to get their members talking our cause. Every Republican member of the House and Senate can help if we persuade them of the good policy sense of WOTC and get them to commit to help by talking to their leaders.
From now to the end of the month, give priority to getting Republican senators to urge Senator McConnell to find a way to move EXPIRE, and getting Republican congressmen to urge Speaker Boehner to direct the Ways and Means Committee to produce a tax extenders bill for WOTC which will soon be expired for seven months.
Please also continue your assignments aimed at winning support of Ways and Means Republicans for permanent WOTC in tax reform.
Should you have any questions or need assistance in your lobbying, please contact us at 703-587-4566 or by e-mail. Thanks to all for your efforts in the campaign.
PAUL E. SUPLIZIO
President, WOTC Coalition