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May 29, 2015

Posts in "Ron Wyden"

May 22, 2015

After Rand Paul’s Objections, Patriot Act Lurches Toward Expiration (Updated)

Rand Paul blocked a Patriot Act extension when he couldn't get votes on his amendments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Paul blocked a Patriot Act extension when he couldn’t get votes on his amendments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated May 23, 2 a.m. | The Senate failed to advance even a one-day extension of the Patriot Act surveillance authorities early Saturday, with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., leading bipartisan objections to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in an extraordinary sequence.

The end result is that the Senate will reconvene for legislative business at 4 p.m. on May 31, staring down a midnight deadline to reauthorize the programs in question, including some far less contentious than the bulk data collection that’s gotten most of the attention. Full story

May 20, 2015

Stabenow: Opponents ‘Have to Deal With’ Currency Amendment on Trade

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Stabenow is insisting on a simple majority vote on the currency amendment she cosponsored with Portman. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Whenever the Senate’s able to vote to limit debate on the pending trade legislation, senators will still have to tackle a tough amendment about currency manipulation.

And the supporters of the amendment, led by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., about the inclusion of enforceable currency provisions in trade agreements, have no reason to make their proposal easier to defeat by agreeing to a 60-vote super majority threshold.

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April 22, 2015

Tough Talk on Trade Between Wyden and Reid

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Wyden said Reid has been blunt with him over their trade policy legislation disagreement. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ron Wyden did not sound surprised by Minority Leader Harry Reid’s call Tuesday for him to slow down progress on Trade Promotion Authority legislation that was being marked up Wednesday afternoon.

“Sen. Reid and I have talked often about this, and he’s already a straight-shooter. You know, he and I have been working together for over three decades,” the Oregon Democrat said of his colleague from Nevada. “Nancy and I are just very fond of Senator Reid and Landra.”

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April 17, 2015

Wyden Knows His Challenge on Trade: Fellow Democrats

Wyden is the lead Democrat on Trade Promotion Authority legislation. (Courtesy Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor)

Wyden is the lead Democrat on Trade Promotion Authority legislation. (Courtesy Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor)

“Trade has never been for the faint-hearted,” Sen. Ron Wyden said Friday morning, less than 24 hours after announcing a bipartisan agreement on legislation to promote trade deals.

The Oregon Democrat is in the unenviable position of being his party’s leading voice on Capitol Hill in support of revived fast-track Trade Promotion Authority for President Barack Obama, a position that puts him squarely in line with the White House and most Republicans, but at odds with key parts of the Democratic coalition.

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December 16, 2014

Tax Extenders Vote a Bipartisan Affair

Wyden was one of a bipartisan group opposing the tax extenders package. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wyden was one of a bipartisan group opposing the tax extenders package. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The final vote on the $41.6 billion tax extenders package was, like the cromnibus last week, a very bipartisan affair.

Handing out mostly corporate tax breaks and adding to the debt to do it has proven to be a popular thing for Congress. Democrats including President Barack Obama spent the better part of 2013 trying to get Republicans to agree to more revenue as part of a budget deal, but are now signing on to deficit expansion for the sake of tax breaks that will expire, again, in two weeks.

Usually, these tax breaks — which range from the R&D tax break to breaks for NASCAR, racehorse owners and wind farms — are touted as incentives — and indeed some senators called them that Tuesday. But it’s hard to retroactively incentivize anything — a point made on the Senate floor by outgoing Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who voted no and said the tax bill didn’t even have the shelf life of a carton of eggs. Full story

September 30, 2014

Forest Service Photography Rule Faces Bipartisan Critics in the Senate

Senators don’t seem satisfied with the Forest Service’s latest assurances that a proposal to require permits for commercial filming and still photography on federal lands won’t apply to the press or to recreational photographers.

In response to a letter from Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., a Forest Service spokesman told CQ Roll Call that journalistic activities would be exempt from paying fees and obtaining permits under the new proposal. Full story

September 9, 2014

Reid Doubts Senate Will Vote on Inversions in September

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he doesn’t expect the Senate to vote on legislation revamping corporate inversions this month.

“I kind of doubt it,” Reid said when asked if there would be a vote in September. When asked why not, Reid only chuckled as he walked into the chamber after his weekly Tuesday press conference.

The Senate has a packed schedule and only plans to be in session through Sept. 23, the day before the Jewish High Holidays begin.

Congress and the Treasury Department have been exploring ways to stem the growth of inversions, the growing trend of American companies buying foreign competitors, often times smaller businesses, then re-incorporating overseas in order to pay less in U.S. taxes. Forty-seven U.S. corporations have reincorporated overseas through corporate inversions in the past 10 years, far more than during the previous 20 years combined, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Secretary Jacob J. Lew said Monday in a speech at the Urban Institute that his agency could act soon.

“The Treasury Department is completing an evaluation of what we can do to make these deals less economically appealing, and we plan to make a decision in the very near future,” Lew said in his speech. “Any action we take will have a strong legal and policy basis, but will not be a substitute for meaningful legislation — it can only address part of the economics. Only a change in the law can shut the door, and only tax reform can solve the problems in our tax code that leads to inversions.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said he has been in contact with Lew and that he continues to work with ranking member Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, on the issue, which he said voters have concerns.

“At community meetings around my state when people would ask about inversions this summer, I said look, if you erode the business tax base, what happens is working families and other businesses have to pick up the freight,” Wyden said.

“What I’m doing is using every single day, and have now for weeks, focused on trying to produce a bipartisan effort,” Wyden added. “We’ve talked about it with Sen. Hatch. Our staffs have been at it day after day now for weeks … and I’m encouraged.”

Wyden said that the environment in the Congress remains highly partisan, which has made it difficult to reach a bipartisan solution to the inversion problem, but not impossible.

“I think it’s important to have a bipartisan stop-gap measure to plug the inversion loophole, and I believe that is consistent to do in line with major tax reform,” Wyden said.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., is expected to unveil his own proposal next week that is would further limit the amount of interest an inverted corporation can deduct from its taxable income.

In August, three Senate Democrats called on Obama to use executive action to address the issue.

Bridget Bowman and Katy O’Donnell contributed to this report.

 

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July 29, 2014

Senate Passes Highway Patch Boehner Plans to Reject

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wyden’s transportation amendment passed. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate Tuesday approved a short-term patch to keep funds flowing to highway projects through Dec. 19, but Speaker John A. Boehner has already promised to strip the Senate provisions and send the House-passed bill right back.

After the Senate’s version of the bill passed 79 to 18 — Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah called it a “free vote…because the House is going to send this right back, they are going to strip everything out — after they’ve left” for the August recess.

Boehner is playing hardball.

“I just want to make clear, if the Senate sends a highway bill over here…we’re gonna strip it out and put the House- passed provisions back in and send it back to the Senate,” the Ohio Republican told reporters Tuesday morning. Full story

July 25, 2014

Wyden Ponders Release of CIA Torture Report Without White House Consent

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A senior Senate Democrat is firing a warning shot at the White House against stalling the release of a report about the past use of torture by the U.S. intelligence community.

Sen. Ron Wyden is talking with his colleagues about the possibility of using a seldom-invoked procedure to declassify an Intelligence Committee report on the use of torture in the event the White House does not move ahead quickly.

Speaking with reporters on a variety of subjects Thursday, the Oregon Democrat referred to the Senate’s “Resolution 400″ — the Abraham A. Ribicoff-sponsored resolution that established the Intelligence Committee back in 1976.

Wyden said he was discussing invoking the resolution “in order to move this along if we have to, through the committee process, to get it declassified.”

Full story

July 23, 2014

Internet Sales Tax Bill Dealt a Blow; Wyden Cheers

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Majority Leader Harry Reid is quietly stepping back from his intention to bundle an Internet tax moratorium with a more contentious proposal to allow states to collect online sales taxes, at least for now.

The Nevada Democrat had said July 16, “I think it’s fair to say the two are going to be together.” The move, backed by Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., would have constituted a run around Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who opposes the legislation known as the Marketplace Fairness Act.

But, CQ Roll Call’s Alan K. Ota reported that as of Tuesday, the plan had changed:

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:27 p.m.
Ron Wyden, Taxes

July 16, 2014

Obama’s Embrace of GOP Highway Fix Frustrates Senators Pushing Long-Term Deal

Murphy has been pushing a gas tax hike to bolster the Highway Trust Fund. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Murphy has been pushing a gas tax hike to bolster the Highway Trust Fund. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A group of Senators focused on forcing action on a new highway bill expressed disappointment with President Barack Obama for backing a House-GOP stopgap measure that they argue would encourage kicking the can down the road. Full story

June 30, 2014

Wyden Continues to Blast Obama Administration on ‘Backdoor’ Surveillance (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ron Wyden is raising additional concerns about “backdoor” queries of communications by American citizens by federal intelligence and law enforcement authorities.

“I and other reformers in Congress have argued that intelligence agencies should absolutely be permitted to search for communications pertaining to counterterrorism and other foreign threats, but if intelligence officials are deliberately searching for and reading the communications of specific Americans, the Constitution requires a warrant,” Wyden said in a statement. “The bipartisan, bicameral legislation that I and other reformers have supported would permit the government to conduct these searches pursuant to a probable cause warrant or emergency authorization, and it would include an exception for searches for individuals who are believed to be in danger.”

Full story

June 26, 2014

Bipartisan Patch Job for Highway Bill Coming Together

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

The bipartisan deal nixed Wyden’s proposal that would increase taxes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A big fight over how to best avert a crisis in highway construction projects won’t happen before the July Fourth recess, and there might be a deal to avoid the fight altogether.

Senate Finance leaders decided to pause a markup of a package to avert a shortfall in federal highway funding amid optimism there will be a deal before a deadline later in July.

The leadership of the committee rolled out a $7.6 billion bipartisan package that nixes a piece of an earlier proposal from Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., that would increase taxes on heavy vehicles and makes other tweaks suggested by Republicans, with further changes possible as negotiators work to craft a final agreement with both sides of the Rotunda.

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June 24, 2014

Ahead of Recess, Highway Bill Standoff Gets Political (Video)

Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform ATR Club for Growth taxes

Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform says a Democratic highway bill violates the group’s anti-tax pledge. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When the Senate returns from the July Fourth recess, lawmakers will have just about two weeks to fix a shortfall in funds for federally-backed highway projects, with both parties again in a dispute over taxes.

If past is prologue, that means campaign-style events with bulldozers and hard hats will be coming to a city near you, and there still might not be a good solution. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has floated plan to keep highway projects from grinding to a halt — but that solution has already drawn the ire of Republicans.

Still, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., says talks will continue, and he remains open to GOP suggestions, which would clearly include spending cuts.

Full story

June 12, 2014

Wyden Touts Whistleblower Protections in Intelligence Bill (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ron Wyden is chastising a recent policy directive while highlighting new whistleblower protections in the intelligence bill that the Senate quietly passed Wednesday evening.

In a widely-reported April directive, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. prohibited intelligence agency personnel from making unauthorized contact with members of the media. In the view of Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has been a longtime skeptic of surveillance programs, the policy could be implemented in far too many circumstances.

“If you’re an employee of an intelligence agency and if you have a family member who likes to post or retweet articles about national security, suddenly having a conversation with that family member about important issues like NSA surveillance or the war in Afghanistan could lead to you getting punished for having unauthorized contact with the media,” Wyden said in a Thursday floor speech, saying the policy could include information that isn’t classified.

Full story

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