Senate Democrats this evening called for a vote on competing Republican and Democratic proposals regarding the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, but Republicans objected because they want to first see the Democratic plan in writing.
“I will be happy to take a look at what [Democrats are] offering, but I cannot at this time agree to lock in a vote at an indeterminate time on a proposal that has not yet been written,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor.
Votes on the proposals could come as soon as Thursday, with Democrats pressing to finish up work by the end of the week on their small-business tax cut bill currently on the floor. Reid also filed cloture on the bill and on an amendment from Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) that would extend a raft of tax cuts to small businesses, including expanded expensing for certain capital investments.
McConnell’s comments came after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) offered to hold a vote on a Democratic proposal to extend the tax cuts for households making less than $250,000 and a Republican plan seeking a one-year extension for all taxpayers in order to give Congress time to reform the tax code.
Reid’s offer also called for a vote on the Democrats’ small-business tax bill, currently under consideration in the Senate, and a House-passed small-business tax bill.
“I am trying to get a vote on what [McConnell] says he’s for, and what the president says he’s for, and what Republicans say they are for,” Reid said after hearing the GOP objection. “But I am happy to let the Republican leader read the exact language.”
“But let no one be fooled by this,” Reid continued. The Senate Republican amendment “doesn’t do anything to protect small businesses. It does every thing to protect [anti-tax advocate] Grover Norquist and his pledge.”
Reid said the only reason Republicans were opposing the Senate bill was because it has the support of President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress and it would strengthen the economy, which would help the president.
“So Republicans are hiding behind a procedural trick: filibustering with unrelated amendments,” Reid said.
Under the Senate bill, which is part of Obama’s to-do list of legislation that he has recommended Congress pass, a 10 percent income tax credit would be provided on new payroll — through either hiring or increased wages.
The bill also extends “bonus depreciation” for one year. The provision allows businesses to write off the entire cost of major purchases in the year they are made rather than depreciate those expenses over many years.
The House-passed bill would give a 20 percent tax cut to businesses with fewer than 500 employees — a threshold Democrats argue is too broad and would benefit the likes of “billionaire hedge fund managers and mega-rich celebrities like Donald Trump,” Reid 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.