Senators vow new push to outlaw an Internet tax

Two leading senators on the Commerce and Finance committees expressed confidence Monday that a ban on taxing Internet access will be approved in the new Congress. 

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 and Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGun proposal picks up GOP support Overnight Regulation: Senate panel approves driverless car bill | House bill to change joint-employer rule advances | Treasury to withdraw proposed estate tax rule | Feds delaying Obama methane leak rule Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-S.D.) have been working on the issue for years, and "now we've gotten a bit of seniority."

"So I am very hopeful that next year, a permanent — a permanent — version of the Internet Tax Freedom Act will be enacted," Wyden said on the Senate floor. "Sen. Thune and I are going to continue to work together on a bipartisan basis until that is done."

The 1998 Internet Tax Freedom Act was extended for a year as part of the omnibus spending bill that passed Congress over the weekend. 

The law, which prevents most states from taxing Internet access, has been extended a number of times in the last decade and a half, but both senators want it to be renewed without an expiration date.

Wyden leads the Senate Finance Committee but will become the ranking Democrat next year, when majority control switches to Republicans. 

Thune is slated to take over the gavel of the Commerce Committee, and is hopeful the legislation "can be considered as early as possible in the next Congress."

The House approved a ban on Internet access taxes in July. The companions bill in the Senate has 52 co-sponsors, including 34 Republicans and 18 Democrats, but stopgap spending agreements have prevented it from moving forward, Wyden said. 

"Because the Congress has become too reliant — and we have certainly seen this in a number of areas — on stop and go government, it was necessary to once again pass a yearlong extension as part of a larger bill," he said. 

Wyden called a permanent extension "essential to our economic competitiveness," while Thune said failing to extend it would "risk canceling out our other efforts to get more Americans online." 

The two senators said they are also hopeful about passage of another bill to prohibit states from imposing multiple taxes on a digital downloads that are transferred online.