Both parties wary of linking jobs plans

Senate Democrats might be looking to break President Obama’s jobs package into chunks, but lawmakers in both chambers and both parties are unsure about the idea of linking a corporate tax holiday with an infrastructure bank.

Top Democrats like Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Crying on TV doesn't qualify Kimmel to set nation's gun agenda Trump knocks ‘fake’ news coverage of his trip to Puerto Rico MORE (N.Y.) had started a push to meld proposals to give corporations a tax break on their offshore profits with infrastructure initiatives even before the Senate voted down a procedural motion on the president’s jobs plan Tuesday.

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But some top Republicans remain firmly behind the repatriation holiday and deeply skeptical of the infrastructure bank, while prominent Democrats have the reverse view.

Meanwhile, leaders of the congressional tax-writing committees from both parties would like to keep discussion of repatriation of offshore corporate profits within the broader push for tax reform.

A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorEric Cantor offering advice to end ‘immigration wars’ Trump's olive branch differs from the golden eras of bipartisanship After divisive rally, Trump calls for unity MORE (R-Va.), among the more prominent policymakers behind the repatriation proposal, said he has doubts about creating an infrastructure bank.

“The majority leader has long supported repatriation — it’s a common-sense, bipartisan step we could take immediately to bring capital back to America,” the spokesman, Brad Dayspring, told The Hill. “He has expressed concerns about the infrastructure bank.”

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Carl LevinCarl LevinPresident Trump, listen to candidate Trump and keep Volcker Rule Republicans can learn from John McCain’s heroism Trump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate MORE (D-Mich.) has blasted the idea of a corporate tax holiday, declaring that it would encourage multinationals to keep increasing amounts of profits offshore and citing data that says the proposal would lose billions of dollars over 10 years.

The Michigan senator also suggested Tuesday that, while he backed an infrastructure bank, he could not support another tax holiday if that were the price.

“If people buy the argument that repatriation is good tax policy, good public policy, good jobs policy, then I think they’re wrong,” Levin, the chairman of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, told reporters on Tuesday.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainRubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts The VA's woes cannot be pinned on any singular administration Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy MORE (R-Ariz.), who recently introduced a repatriation measure with Sen. Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (D-N.C.), dismissed looking at the two items in tandem, after Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Republicans are headed for a disappointing end to their year in power Obama's HHS secretary could testify in Menendez trial MORE (D-Nev.) floated the idea last week.

“The issue of $1.4 trillion parked overseas is very different from the infrastructure bank that Sen. Reid envisions,” McCain said at a news conference last week. “I think we would be more than willing to address that issue as well, but why should they be tied together?”

The discussion of linking the two proposals comes as Democrats begin searching for ways to regroup in their push for jobs legislation. The White House has said it supports Democratic efforts on Capitol Hill to break its bill into pieces.

The talk also comes as the debate over a repatriation holiday heats up. McCain and Hagan dropped their bill last week, and Levin released a report Monday calling a corporate holiday enacted in 2004 a failure.

Pro-repatriation forces say their idea is one of the few economic proposals in Washington right now to have bipartisan support, and that corporations will merely keep their offshore profits out of the U.S. without the incentive.

But the study released by Levin found that the corporations that relied the most on the 2004 holiday shed jobs in the aftermath and didn’t quicken their pace of investment in research and development. 

House and Senate repatriation measures would offer slightly different tax breaks. 

Under a House measure sponsored by Reps. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyGOP eyes limits on investor tax break Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot Swing-seat Republicans squirm over GOP tax plan MORE (R-Texas) and Jim MathesonJim MathesonTrump's budget targets affordable, reliable power Work begins on T infrastructure plan New president, new Congress, new opportunity MORE (D-Utah), corporations that repatriate offshore funds would pay a 5.25 percent rate, an 85 percent discount from the top corporate rate of 35 percent and the same rate as the 2004 holiday. Companies would also face penalties if they shed jobs while taking advantage of the holiday. 

Hagan and McCain’s measure would bring the tax rate down to 8.75 percent, with companies that hire workers getting the chance to pay as little as 5.25 percent. The Senate legislation also includes disincentives for businesses to eliminate jobs.

While repatriation backers are bullish on opening the borders for offshore profits, they are less concerned about how the funds are used. An official with the WIN America Campaign — a lobbying coalition that includes several Silicon Valley heavyweights — told The Hill that the group would “let Congress and the administration determine how best to use the revenue generated.”

On Tuesday, some Senate Democrats expressed other concerns about linking repatriation and infrastructure bank, including the need to make sure that lawmakers find a permanent fix to the issue of offshore corporate profits and that any corporate tax holiday leads to job creation.

 Like Levin, Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezOvernight Health Care: House passes 20-week abortion ban | GOP gives ground over ObamaCare fix | Price exit sets off speculation over replacement You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible Poll: Most in NJ want Menendez to resign if found guilty MORE (D-N.J.) said that studies had shown that the 2004 holiday had failed in that respect.

“I’m for repatriation, as long as we have a clear nexus in which it produces jobs,” Menendez said. “So, how it’s structured with the infrastructure bank would be important.”

And Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Senate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax CEO faces outraged lawmakers | Dem presses voting machine makers on cyber defense | Yahoo says 3 billion accounts affected by 2013 breach MORE (D-Ore.) said he was most concerned about ensuring that there aren’t continued repeats of tax holidays.

“If you don’t do something permanent, the history is, they just say we’ll just hold off until the next one,” Wyden said.

On Tuesday, Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), a repatriation holiday skeptic and the ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee, discussed another way to consider the idea — as part of comprehensive tax reform.

“Here, Chairman Camp and I have thus far agreed,” Levin said, referring to the head of the Ways and Means panel, Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.).

The Obama administration and Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP eyes limits on investor tax break Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot MORE (R-Utah), the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, have indicated that they would also like to look at repatriation in the tax overhaul discussions.

Sandy Levin, the senator’s brother, added that he had questions about proposals, like the one from McCain and Hagan, that would implement a holiday that gives corporations the chance to further reduce their tax bill by adding U.S. jobs.

“How would you know it wouldn’t have happened anyway?” Levin asked. “There’s a burden of proof.”