Pension, Tax Vote Will Wait Another Week

May 18, 2001 ( - The RELIEF tax act got through the week untouched by the Senate, as moderate Democrats joined with Republicans to block amendments to the $1.35 trillion tax cut package -- which also carries pension reform provisions.

Thus far, the pension provisions in the Senate bill are unchanged, but at present differ from those in the House version, and the original Senate proposal ( Pension Reform Stretched Out In Senate Proposal ).

A final Senate vote on the package is set for late Monday, but no votes on amendments were scheduled for today. Meanwhile, the House has passed its own tax cut proposal (H.R. 1836, the . Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001) in preparation for an eventual reconciliation with the Senate bill.

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The House passed that bill May 16 as a procedural effort designed to satisfy a constitutional requirement that tax legislation originate in the House. The bill contained $958 billion in marginal rate cuts that the House originally passed in February as part of an earlier measure (H.R. 3).

Amendments Rejected

In Thursday’s actions, the Senate voted 56-44 against an amendment by Senator Kent Conrad (D – North Dakota) that would have reduced the bill’s tax cuts for upper-income individuals so that middle-class married couples would get more relief sooner. Eight Democrats voted to defeat that amendment.

Later in the session seven Democrats crossed the aisle to join most of their Republican colleagues in defeating, 55-43, an effort by Senator Charles Schumer (D – New York) to scale back the estate tax cuts in favor of enhancing its proposed college tuition tax deduction.

On Monday a vote is expected on a Democratic amendment to reduce the 15% income tax rate to 14%, as well as slim down the proposed upper-income tax rates. That provision was defeated by a 10-10 tie vote in the Senate Finance Committee earlier in the week.

– Nevin Adams

For Pension Reform Updates