Senate Democrats to make eleventh-hour push for tax extenders

Senate Democratic leaders are expected to push to extend dozens of expiring short-term tax breaks before they depart for the year, a Democratic aide told The Hill.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to ask the Senate to continue 55 tax incentives for another year by unanimous consent, the aide said. That request was expected as soon as Wednesday afternoon, though the timing is now in flux.

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Republicans would object to that request, a GOP aide said. In any event, the House has already left town for 2013, and some see the Democratic effort as an attempt to keep the provisions in the public eye.

The incentives, collectively known as tax extenders, affect individual taxpayers and a wide range of business sectors.

The measures scheduled to expire at the end of the year include a popular credit for research and development, an incentive for companies to invest in struggling communities, a provision prized by the wind industry and even a tax break used by NASCAR track owners.

Those breaks frequently expire, only to be extended retroactively, most recently in the "fiscal-cliff" deal signed almost a year ago. But in recent days, lawmakers have been increasing the pressure to deal with at least some of the extenders sooner rather than later.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) have stressed repeatedly that they will deal with extenders as part of their efforts to overhaul the tax code.

Aides to Baucus said as much on Wednesday, when the Montana Democrat released his fourth tax reform draft discussion in the last month. That draft would streamline temporary energy tax incentives. 

"I understand the frustration of my colleagues, and more importantly the America’s taxpayers, that year after year they have to wait on Congress to extend these provisions. The uncertainty created is unfortunate, and also detrimental to the nation’s economy," Baucus said in a statement Wednesday.

"It has always been my goal to provide more certainty to taxpayers around the country by making tax extenders permanent in tax reform. I look forward to working with my colleagues to put a bipartisan package of tax extenders together in the new year." 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democratic leaders have also undercut Baucus’s tax reform efforts in recent months, as the two parties remain deeply divided over whether an revamped code should raise more revenue.