OVERNIGHT MONEY: Senate Finance tackles tax extenders

THURSDAY'S BIG STORY:

It’s time for extenders: The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to mark up a measure on Thursday extending that grab bag of expiring and expired tax provisions known around town as tax extenders.

Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has made the extenders package one of the top priorities of his opening weeks with the gavel, to the point that he pushed back a hearing with President Obama’s trade representative for four weeks to hold Thursday’s markup.

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The committee’s top Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), had said that he hoped to leave many of the temporary provisions in the trash bin this time around.

But the package Wyden and Hatch crafted keeps close to 80 percent of the incentives that expired at the end of last year, including the tax credit for research and development and a provision that allows companies to defer offshore financial services income.

Most of the rest of them, like the production tax credit for the wind industry and a tax break for NASCAR tracks, could get tucked back in as well.

In all, Finance members have filed more than 90 amendments for tomorrow’s markup, though not all will get a vote.

Those amendments include a GOP measure to delay new IRS rules for tax-exempt groups, and multiple efforts to target ObamaCare.

Other provisions seek tax breaks for Olympic medalists, craft beer brewers and Hollywood — underscoring that, while extenders might be derided in some circles as corporate pork, the temporary tax breaks often have lots of defenders in powerful places.

 

WHAT ELSE WE'RE WATCHING

Talking trade: On Thursday, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will sit down with the House Ways and Means Committee to discuss the nation’s ambitious trade agenda including trade promotion authority and two massive trade deals that cover a broad stretch of the globe from the Atlantic to the Pacific Rim.

The Senate Finance Committee postponed its hearing with Froman to April 30 so lawmakers on that panel can tackle a bill that would revive a slew of expired tax provisions.

A bid to move trade promotion authority legislation sponsored by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has stalled out for now and the hearing should provide some insight into where Democrats, Republicans and the Obama administration stand on the matter.

Froman and several other Obama Cabinet officials have canvassed Capitol Hill in recent months to discuss details of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and the 28-nation European Union.

But fast-track authority has created the most irritation among lawmakers. 

Some want President Obama more directly involved in the push for fresh legislation — the last fast-track law expired in 2007 — while others want to make sure Congress has a close hand in crafting trade deals with their priorities. 

After taking the gavel in February, Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said he would talk to Senate and House lawmakers about what they want to see in a bill before moving forward.

Former panel Chairman Max Baucus, who left Congress to become the U.S. ambassador to China, introduced legislation in January with Camp and top Finance panel Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah).

That attempt received a chilly reception from many congressional Democrats.

Show me the money: Appropriators on both sides of the Capitol continue their dive into spending plans for a wide variety of agencies including the National Park Service and the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve.

Senate appropriators will chat with Attorney General Eric Holder about his department’s fiscal 2015 budget as well as with FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

Also on the House side, the Energy and Commerce Committee will talk to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz about his spending plan. 

 

ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Initial Claims: The Labor Department will release its weekly claims for first-time jobless benefits.

Challenger Jobs Cuts: The Chicago-based firm will release its report on the number of jobs cuts that are planned by U.S. employers in March.

Trade Balance: The Commerce Department releases its February data on exports and imports of U.S. goods and services with a forecast holding the deficit steady.

ISM Services Index: The Institute for Supply Management will release its March index that measures the service sector's pace of growth. The sector employs 90 percent of all workers, including those at restaurants, hotels and retailers, and has been responsible for the bulk of hiring during the recovery. The index is forecast to have expanded at a faster pace last month.

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— Senate Dems block GOP amendments to unemployment bill

Unemployment bill clears hurdle in Senate

— Employee blasts CFPB as hostile environment

— Obama: Congress has 'clear choice' on minimum wage

Consumers spending more on credit cards, keeping balances lower

— Treasury announces moves to smooth tax law implementation

— House legislative branch bill shifts spending

— Palin calls Ryan budget plan a 'joke'

— House appropriators cut military construction spending

— GOP predicts Ryan budget will pass

Bitcoin comes to Capitol

— Is bitcoin good for business?

— Private-sector employers added 191,000 jobs in March

— Showdown puts energy credit at risk

 

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