At press time, congressional leaders were seeking to resolve an impasse over the insistence by some members of the Republican leadership to hold tax sweeteners in a pension reform bill hostage to an estate tax reform package.
At risk is a years-long effort to reform the defined benefit pension system and not impose billions of dollars of cost on the federal government to bail out insolvent pension plans.
Commenting on the issue at noon last Thursday, Dermot Healey, president of the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting, said, “While the situation remains fluid at this time, it remains clear that there is still an appetite for consideration of an estate tax reform proposal in Congress that would likely prove unsustainable over the long term.”
He said the House could consider something before adjournment and send it to the Senate for consideration in September, which was the subject of an urgent meeting at noon Thursday among the Senate Republican leadership, several Senate members of the pension reform conference committee, and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee and also a member of the conference committee.
“AALU will continue its efforts to advocate in favor of fair, fiscally responsible and permanent estate tax reform, and AALU members will address this issue with legislators while they are in their home states during the August recess,” Healey said.
While negotiators working Wednesday night were able to resolve differences in the bill, four Republican senators who are members of the committee threatened not to sign the conference report if a package of so-called extenders of popular business tax cuts was removed from the pension reform bill and attached to a new estate tax bill.