WH floats veto threat on charitable tax bill

The White House said Tuesday that it might veto new legislation to restore three separate incentives for charitable giving, dealing a setback to lawmakers making a last-ditch effort to get those incentives a permanent extension.

Just days before lawmakers hope to leave Washington for the year, White House press secretary Josh Earnest reminded reporters Tuesday that President Obama had threatened to veto a similar measure approved in the House passed over the summer.
 
“It’s fair for you to assume that our view of the new version that appears very similar to the old version is the same,” Earnest said on Air Force One.
 
Earnest’s comments signal a major stumbling block for a bill that both House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCongress faces growing health care crisis in Puerto Rico Photos of the Week: Nov. 13-17 Senate panel approves GOP tax plan MORE (D-Ore.) had hoped to get to President Obama’s desk. 
 
Lawmakers already faced procedural challenges in getting the bill enacted in the final days of the current Congress, but aides said Tuesday that the House was still likely to vote on the tax break measure and it remained on the calendar of bills that could get floor consideration.
 
The $11 billion measure would permanently restore expired tax breaks for donations of food, charitable contributions from certain retirement accounts and for land conservation. All of the breaks expired at the end of 2013.
 
Before Earnest’s comments, Camp touted the bill’s bipartisan support and insisted the measure would hit the House floor sometime this week.  Wyden said he thought the proposal could sail through without opposition from a single senator.
 
The House would bring the legislation to the floor under a procedure that required two-thirds support for passage.
 
“My view is we’ll pass it as a clean bill, and send it on to the president,” Wyden told reporters, later adding: “I really don’t see a lot of controversy.”
 
The White House had worked with Wyden to submarine the broader tax bill, costing more than $400 billion, that would have indefinitely restored the charitable incentives and other preferences for businesses and working families.
 
That veto threat led the House to pass a one-year extension of dozens of tax breaks that expired at the end of last year. In the coming days the Senate is expected to consider that legislation, which would also revive the three charitable provisions for this year.
 
But the latest veto talk from the White House leaves the chances of those three charitable provisions getting permanent extensions in flux.
 
Over the summer, Obama had threatened to veto a package of five permanent tax breaks for charitable giving, including the three incentives that Camp and Wyden were working to restore this week. At the time, the administration said it supported policies that helped charities, but believed the cost of the tax breaks should be offset.
 
Still, that measure easily cleared the House, with more than two-thirds of the lawmakers voting in support.
 
Even before Earnest floated another veto threat on Tuesday, senior Democrats and Republicans said that the Senate could easily run out of time on the current session before getting to the permanent extensions of the charitable incentives.
 
“I think it’s going to be hard to get any new legislation up,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidVirginia was a wave election, but without real change, the tide will turn again Top Lobbyists 2017: Grass roots Boehner confronted Reid after criticism from Senate floor MORE (D-Nev.), who was negotiating the broader tax deal with Camp. “If there’s a way to get it up, we will.”
 
In addition to the one-year extension of tax breaks, the Senate also still needs to vote on a government spending bill, which itself has run into hurdles in recent days, as well as a major defense bill.
 
“Whether the traffic can bear what’s being put on the highway between now and when we wrap up here remains to be seen,” Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate panel approves GOP tax plan Republicans see rising Dem odds in Alabama Overnight Health Care: Nearly 1.5M sign up for ObamaCare so far | Schumer says Dems won't back ObamaCare deal if it's tied to tax bill | House passes fix to measure letting Pentagon approve medical treatments MORE (S.D.), a member of GOP leadership, said Tuesday. “On the merits level, yes, it’s something we all support.”
 
Charitable groups also increased their efforts to get the three incentives revived for good on Tuesday, saying the bill “would give nonprofits and foundations unprecedented ability to fulfill their missions, helping those in need and building stronger and more vibrant communities across America.”
 
“A one-year extension, which would put these tax incentives in place for merely the next three weeks, is not enough,” five separate charity advocates wrote to lawmakers.