Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Senate Stumbles on Popular Legislation

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the floor Monday that he hopes Republicans will allow legislation on a laundry list of priorities to pass.

Democrats have little political incentive to allow a vote on the House-approved student loan measure before the Senate breaks. The House vote already took away momentum from the Democrats, who thought the loan issue was one they could own on the campaign trail. President Barack Obama even barnstormed on student loans in multiple appearances across the country, including on late-night television with NBC’s Jimmy Fallon.

Since then, Democrats have been oddly silent on the issue, with the Beltway small-talk of how to offset the legislation not a message that resonates as largely outside of Washington.

Republicans have been equally quiet but insist they still are working toward agreement.

“We are hoping to get a vote on our alternative ... in some fashion, I am not sure,” Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said. “We are hoping to be able to do that this week.”

Meanwhile, the longer it takes to resolve the FDA user fee bill, which is considered must-pass legislation, the longer other issues have to stay on the back burner.

One of those issues is the small-business tax credit bill that was unveiled in March. Though leaders have repeatedly said they would like to approve the measure, which could garner bipartisan support, aides suggested that floor time continues to get put off because of other initiatives with stricter deadlines.

“It’s important, it’s not the only thing that has to be done that’s very important,” Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chairman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said. “That’s in Harry Reid’s department right now. I know that he’s intent on getting it to the floor. I think there was something that got in line before it, but he’s committed to bring that to the floor along with some other small-business pieces.”

The small-business tax credit legislation would provide a 10 percent income tax credit on new payroll in 2012 with a maximum increase in eligible wages of $5 million per employer and a cap of the amount of credit at $500,000. It also contains a depreciation provision that would allow for small businesses to write off the maximum amount of major purchases in the year they are made instead of depreciating those expenses over many years.

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