Supporters of deep cuts in the federal estate tax may have failed Aug. 3 to win enough votes in the Senate to force debate on their bill–but they are making clear they will have another go at it when Congress resumes work Sept. 5.
A motion to close off debate on the bill, H.R. 5970, failed by four votes, 56-42, to clear a procedural hurdle that would have set the stage for passage.
But, in comments to reporters Aug. 4, Senate Majority Leader William Frist, R-Tenn., made clear he will tie provisions included in the bill and sought by business leaders and Democrats in the Senate to the estate tax proposal.
He told reporters he has no plans to bring up a bill extending many popular federal tax breaks and benefits by itself.
“I don’t see it unless we do these three,” Frist said, reaffirming an earlier threat that tax extenders would not move without the permanent estate tax reduction.
A provision raising the federal minimum wage to $7.25 per hour, from $5.15, for most workers at large and midsize employers was also attached to those two measures as an added incentive for Democrats.
A Treasury Department spokesman, Tony Fratto, said the administration also intends to continue to work with Congress ahead of the midterm elections to get estate tax cuts made permanent.
“We absolutely want to see estate tax relief, at worst, extended or, at best, made permanent,” Fratto said. “It is vital to the economy to keep these tax cuts in place and, where possible, made permanent. We look forward to Congress’s return to work on this in September.”
Frist ensured that the bill, called the trifecta bill, will have another chance by changing his vote in order to reserve the right to bring it back to the floor when Congress resumes work in early September.