Senate Democratic leaders on Tuesday expressed confidence they can pass the tax extenders bill through their chamber next week.
“We’re going to pass this good jobs bill that is on the floor,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidHopes rise for law to expand access to experimental drugs If Gorsuch pick leads to 'crisis,' Dems should look in mirror first Senate confirms Mulvaney to be Trump’s budget chief MORE (D-Nev.).
The bill introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax BaucusFive reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination The mysterious sealed opioid report fuels speculation MORE (D-Mont.) deviates from the House-passed version by extending $24 billion in state aid for Medicaid and easing the tax burden on so-called carried interest paid by hedge fund managers, venture capitalists and real estate partnerships.
Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerOvernight Cybersecurity: Trump defends Flynn, blasts leaks | Yahoo fears further breach Overnight Finance: Trump's Labor pick withdraws | Ryan tries to save tax plan | Trump pushes tax reform with retailers Democrats declare victory after Puzder bows out MORE (D-N.Y.) argues that the provision adds a layer of fairness to the tax code.
“It goes across the board,” he told reporters. “It affects private equity and hedge funds. It affects real estate. It affects venture capital. And that’s how it should be.”
Schumer said Tuesday that Reid will have the 60 votes necessary to pass the bill, even though no Republicans have indicated support.
Given the Senate’s composition, Democrats will need at least one crossover vote. But Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellRepublicans at risk in 2018 steering clear of town halls GOP rep on Trump: 'God has used imperfect people to do great things before' McConnell: 'Winners make policy, losers go home' MORE (R-Ky.) predicts that securing even that one will be difficult because of qualms over the bill’s cost.
“I can’t predict the outcome of the vote, but I do know that there is a growing feeling in our conference, which we’ve demonstrated in recent weeks, that these packages ought to be paid for,” McConnell said. “It seems like every bill that comes across the Senate floor expands the deficit.”
The extenders bill certainly does that. Its price tag of roughly $140 billion adds $77 billion to the federal deficit, a figure some GOP centrists find troubling.
Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsPruitt sworn in as EPA chief Comey meets Intel senators amid uproar over Trump-Russia ties EPA breaks Twitter silence to congratulate new head MORE (R-Maine), a centrist Democrats hope to win over, expressed reservations.
“It’s my understanding that a majority of the bill is still not paid for, so that’s a problem,” she told The Hill.
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said Republican resistance would likely remain until more of the legislation is paid for.
“I think that virtually all Republicans oppose the bill in the form it was introduced here this morning,” he said Tuesday.
Some Democrats are equally uncomfortable that the bill is not fully offset. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has disapproved of the way his own party leaders have classified nearly every spending item as an emergency measure to avoid paying for it.
“Priorities are priorities, but emergencies are emergencies. They’re not always the same,” he said this week.
Other Senate Democrats would still like to see changes on the carried interest provision.
Sen. Tom CarperTom CarperSenate advances Trump's Commerce pick Warren: Trump's EPA pick the 'attorney general for Exxon' Overnight Energy: EPA pick Pruitt set for Friday vote | Dems plan all-night protest | Trump nixes Obama coal mining rule MORE (D-Del.) would like to see more of a concession for those who use their own money in investment strategies.
“I believe there needs to be a compromise that provides a somewhat lower tax rate for those who have their own money — their own skin in the game — and they have their own skin in the game for half a dozen years or more,” he said.
Senators will be allowed to amend the bill, and McConnell said his party will take full advantage of the chance.
Reid plans to tweak the bill by supporting an amendment that extends the “doc fix,” a term describing a delay in cuts to Medicare reimbursement to doctors. The bill currently extends the measure for 19 months, but Reid said he plans to support a proposal that would extend the fix even beyond that.
“I want to move on that,” he said. “There is some feeling on the Senate side that there’ll be an amendment offered to increase it to at least three and a half years.”