Support for new extenders unclear


K Street floated a new version of the extender bill this morning that phases down Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) spending and carves out family partnerships from paying the blended tax rate on carried interest. The bill is also expected to add to the deficit. 

However, it is unclear whether the bill is a product of Democratic leaders or simply a trial balloon released by lobbyists to gin up support for the bill. Whatever its origin, its ability to secure 60 votes in the Senate was not clear. 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told reporters her chief concern is the bill adding to the deficit and that she is reviewing the new proposal. 

"Senate Baucus talked to me briefly this morning and I'm taking a look at the new [changes]," she told reporters, adding, "It is my understanding that Senator Baucus has made a lot of progress in paying for the bill. That's been my number one concern." 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), whose state would be negatively affected by the reductions to FMAP, still supports the measure. 

"If it's just a diminution in FMAP as opposed to removing it entirely, it's clearly much better," she told reporters. "All these things are relative."

If Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) cannot get 60 votes for extenders, congressional staffers and lobbyists told The Hill, he will likely move to a non-tax measure, possibly the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill or legislation on collective bargaining. 

However, some senators have been promised that legislation granting tax relief and loan opportunities to small businesses would be debated after extenders. Their feathers could be ruffled if Reid moves from extenders to a non-tax bill.