The Highway bill is on the way to the Senate floor for passage this week, and will likely be completed by Thursday.
We’ve been urging the Majority Leader to attach the EXPIRE tax extenders to the Wyden-Hatch version of the Highway bill, which the Senate will vote on soon.
Right now, Senator Reid’s plan is to hold votes on two amendments to the House bill—one, the Wyden-Hatch bill known as PATH, the other from the Energy and Commerce Committee.
None of his plans currently include tax extenders and we doubt that will change, even though a number of senators are pressing Leaders for another vote on extenders before recess.
Congress could leave as early as Thursday for the August recess and not return until September 8th, hence we’re looking at another two months delay in passing the EXPIRE bill. However, the efforts we’ve made pressing for EXPIRE in the Finance Committee and with the Majority Leader and Senate Republicans are going to pay off in the end.
As a result of our lobbying the last two weeks, two Finance Committee Republican senators are considering our appeal that they come together with like-minded senators committed to EXPIRE and take the lead in pressing both Leaders to bring EXPIRE back to the floor to pass as a stand-alone bill. We will keep you informed of our progress here.
In addition, when Congress returns September 8th all eyes will be on the Continuing Resolution to fund the government till after the November election. The CR must be passed by September 30th and such a bill has often carried tax provisions as part of a deal between the two political parties and the White House. We’ll be aiming to get the extenders into that bill because it might be our last chance before the election.
Looking ahead, here are our tasks.
In the Senate, let’s continue efforts to get our Republican senators to take the lead in bringing EXPIRE back to the floor for another vote, either before the recess or in September. These senators were part of the Senate’s 95-3 vote for EXPIRE in June, and they expect to be voting again sooner or later. Our case is that rather than accept the stalemate in the Senate, they should join in telling their leaders too much economic harm is being inflicted by continued delay in passing the extenders and they’ll vote to pass the original EXPIRE bill without amendments if the two sides can’t agree on any.
In the House, we should continue to give top priority to Ways and Means Committee Republicans and the Republican leadership who hold the future of WOTC in their hands. We caution again that we’re at a big disadvantage as the chairman wants WOTC terminated and he’ll work to make sure he wins the vote to do so. We need a majority of the 23 Ways and Means Republicans voting for permanent WOTC, and so far we have two.
A WOTC supporter recently met with Congressman Paul Ryan who was interested in WOTC as part of his plans to re-make the nation’s anti-poverty programs—a good development inasmuch as Ryan was open-minded about WOTC and is likely to be Ways and Means chairman next year.
We cannot emphasize enough the perils of not pressing ahead with Republican congressmen from your state, or the state where you have operations, by meeting with them during the August recess. If they are Ways and Means members, you should make the case for permanent WOTC in tax reform. If they aren’t on Ways and Means, urge them to tell Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McCarthy they support permanent WOTC in tax reform.
Those of us in Washington should get ready to sharpen our contacts with White House and congressional leaders to press for including the tax extenders in the deal to fund the government next month. Although the overall levels of continuing appropriations have been settled, there’ll be lots of negotiating on emergency supplementals for immigration and the military, more spending for the Veterans Administration, and Senate and House spending issues for departments like EPA and IRS.
Our goal is to make the tax extenders highly visible in these talks and get EXPIRE included in the final package if it hasn’t already been passed.
PAUL E. SUPLIZIO
President, WOTC Coalition