GOP leader criticizes tax credit for local news in Democrats' spending bill

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseSarah Palin's defamation case against New York Times heads to trial Supreme Court handcuffs Biden on vaccinations House GOP campaign arm rakes in 0M in 2021 MORE (R-La.) on Friday criticized a provision in House Democrats’ social spending bill to provide a payroll tax credit to local news outlets, as Democrats struggled to secure the votes to pass the broader package.

Scalise took issue with the provision in a tweet, highlighting an estimate from the Joint Committee on Taxation that it would cost $1.67 billion over the next decade.

“What a scam,” Scalise said.

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The latest version of the social spending bill would create a payroll tax credit to help local news outlets afford paying journalists. 

The credit would cover 50 percent of wages of up to $50,000 per journalist in its first year, and 30 percent of wages of up to $50,000 in years after that. The credit would expire after 2025.

The provision is based on legislation that has bipartisan support in the House, and is supported by newspaper industry groups. The cost of the provision is small compared to the overall size of the package, which was based on a $1.75 trillion White House framework.

But Republicans generally are critical of the media, and Scalise’s attack on the provision came as some moderate Democrats are expressing resistance to voting for the social-spending package on Friday.

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While House Democratic leaders are aiming for a vote on the social-spending package on Friday, a handful of moderate Democrats want to wait to vote until after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) releases an estimate of the bill’s cost.

Scalise in a separate tweet criticized House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? Man who threatened to kill Ocasio-Cortez, Pelosi pleads guilty to federal charges The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems look to repackage BBB into salvageable bill MORE (D-Calif.) for seeking a vote prior to the CBO score.

“What's she trying to hide?” he tweeted. “Taxpayers deserve to know exactly how much this thing will cost.”