Senate leaders clashed today over taxes as Republicans called for a vote on competing GOP and Democratic proposals regarding the 2001 and 2003 cuts.
But Senate Democrats objected to the move, seeking to keep the focus on tax breaks for small businesses, which is the bill the Senate is currently considering.
Democrats support extending the tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 a year, which they argue would help to make the tax code more fair for the middle class.
But Republicans are pushing for a vote on a yearlong extension for everyone in order to give Congress time to reform the tax code. Republicans oppose the Democratic plan, which President Barack Obama earlier this week called on Congress to enact, because they believe it would raise taxes small businesses.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on the Senate floor today called for “One [vote] on the president’s proposal to raise taxes on nearly 1 million business owners in the middle of the worst economic recovery in modern times, and one [vote] that would extend current income tax rates for one year and task the Finance Committee to produce a bill that would enact fundamental, pro-growth tax reform.”
But Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) objected to the request and said Republicans should join with Democrats to pass their small-business bill, which he said would help create 1 million jobs.
Reid also charged that the move by Republicans was an effort to filibuster the small-business bill.
“Lets debate the issue that is before us,” Reid said. “We’ll get to the tax issues.”
The small-business bill would provide a 10 percent income tax credit on new payroll — through hiring or increased wages — added in 2012.
The bill would also extend bonus depreciation for one year, allowing businesses to write off the entire cost of major purchases in the year they are made rather than depreciate those expenses over many years.
Senate Finance ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who introduced the Republican tax cut extension amendment, said Reid’s refusal to accept the request for votes on the proposal showed that Democrats are not serious about dealing with the fiscal cliff; the tax breaks expire for all at the end of the year, a scenario that some say could put a strain on the already weak economy.
“It’s mind-boggling to me,” Hatch said, adding that Democrats are filibustering Obama’s proposal.
“It tells us that the president tax increase plan is not just an economic disaster, it’s a political loser and they know it,” Hatch said.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.