Senate's 'Buffett Rule' bill includes sense of Senate calling for tax reform

The Senate on Monday will hold a procedural vote on a bill that would not only impose a "Buffett Rule" on wealthy taxpayers but also includes a "sense of the Senate" that Congress should take on full-scale tax reform.

"Congress should enact tax reform that repeals unfair and unnecessary tax loopholes and expenditures, simplifies the system for millions of taxpayers and businesses (including by eliminating the alternative minimum tax for middle-class Americans), and makes sure that the wealthiest taxpayers pay a fair share," reads S. 2230, the Paying a Fair Share Act.


Sen. Blunt demands answers on subpar military health facilities

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) sent a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki on Thursday requesting an explanation for why military service members are receiving "subpar" healthcare at the John Cochran Division of the St. Louis VA Medical Center (VAMC).

"I request that you respond to me as soon as possible," Blunt wrote.


Senate hearings: GSA, Syria, Export-Import Bank

The Senate has a light hearing schedule next week, punctuated by a Wednesday hearing at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on oversight of the General Services Administration (GSA).

GSA has been ravaged by both parties over the Easter break after the agency's inspector general released a report saying GSA spent more than $800,000 in a 2010 Las Vegas conference, and spent thousands of dollars on excessive gifts for its employees.


Durbin: Congress needs to find way around proposed Postal Service cuts

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Thursday called on Congress to work in the next month to find a way around the U.S. Postal Service's proposed cuts to mail delivery service.

"The Postal Service — employing 30,000 Illinoisans from clerks, to drivers, to postmasters, to letter carriers — needs to restructure its services in a way that preserves its reputation for affordable, timely service; expands revenue opportunities; and reflects the reality of an internet driven world," Durbin said. "Without congressional action, the damaging cuts proposed by the Postal Service would likely take effect."


Sen. Brown calls for bill requiring government to give taxpayers receipts

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on Thursday called on Congress to approve a bill that would require the government to give taxpayers a receipt that would show how much of their taxes went toward Defense, Social Security and other programs, as well as how much their share of the national debt increased over the last year.

"Taxpayers, like the Bay Staters here today, deserve to know how the government is spending their hard-earned money," Brown said at a Boston H&R Block office. "The national debt is a real danger to our economy, and the taxpayers who keep the government afloat should be clear about our country's finances and just how much debt we're shouldering.


Sen. Lee says 'Buffett Rule' a Democratic distraction from troubled economy

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said Wednesday night that next week's effort to take up the so-called "Buffett Rule" by Senate Democrats is just an attempt to distract voters from a troubled economy hindered by explosive growth in the size of the federal government.

"Americans want jobs; they want to be able to afford their way of life," Lee said on Fox Business Wednesday. "They don't need a president coming in and trying to divide Americans, trying to pit one group of Americans against another in a way that's not going to solve anything that we're facing right now.


Cornyn introduces 'taxpayer bill of rights' for small business

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Wednesday introduced new legislation aimed at making it easier for small companies to navigate the IRS.

Cornyn's Small Business Taxpayer Bill of Rights comes just a week before House Republicans are expected to move legislation that would give small companies a 20 percent tax cut, and shows Republicans are eager to use Tax Day, traditionally April 15, as a reminder that they support efforts to ease the tax burden.


Sen. Sherrod Brown looks to boost penalties for tax identify theft

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) on Wednesday said he supports a Senate bill that increases penalties for people convicted of identify theft by filing false tax returns with the IRS.

Brown spoke in Ohio with Michael Bucalo, one of his constituents whose identity was stolen by a criminal who got his tax return, and said these sorts of crimes are slowing down tax refunds.


Sen. Whitehouse says he would reject Supreme Court nomination while unemployment remains high

First-term Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said Monday that he would turn down a chance to be the next Supreme Court justice because he would prefer to keep working on lowering the unemployment rate.

According to Providence Business News, Whitehouse was asked Monday whether he would reject a Supreme Court nomination, given that Vice President Biden discussed the possibility of nominating Whitehouse a few years ago.


Rubio calls for visa reform as Brazil's president meets with Obama

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Monday said this week's visit to Washington by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is an opportunity to build support for tourist travel between the United States and Brazil, and called on both President Obama and Congress to pass a tourism bill that already has bipartisan support in the Senate.

"Of all the issues of mutual interest to the U.S. and Brazil, one that already has broad bipartisan support and should move forward immediately is the JOLT Act," Rubio said. "The JOLT Act would boost tourism to the U.S., particularly by Brazilians visiting Florida, by reforming a burdensome visa process that has become a roadblock to economic growth.