Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

Will Obama Threaten to Veto Senate’s Tax-Cut Bill?

tax cut bill veto unemployment extension

Obama is against a tax extenders package that is not paid for and has criticized the House for not passing an unemployment extension. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Defying the White House and a yearslong push for more revenue, Senate Democrats are on the verge of passing an $85 billion grab bag of tax cuts with no plans to pay for them.

The question now is whether President Barack Obama will stick to his guns and threaten to veto the bill — picking an intraparty fight in an election year with control of the Senate at stake.

Ask a liberal Senate Democrat about the deficit-financed “tax extenders” package headed for the floor next week, and you’re likely to hear a refrain that could have been uttered by a Republican — some tax cuts shouldn’t have to be paid for because they pay for themselves. Or extending an expired tax cut shouldn’t count — never mind those pesky pay-as-you-go rules.

But the White House’s budget proposed a corporate tax package that would generate revenue to help pay for its transportation bill, not another tax cut that would inflate the deficit.

“Our position remains unchanged and we continue to believe the extenders should be paid for,” an administration official told CQ Roll Call.

(Update 5/13: The White House declined to issue a veto threat on the bill.)

The administration hasn’t yet threatened a veto of the Senate measure, but the Office of Management and Budget issued a sternly worded veto threat over the House GOP’s tax extender bill resurrecting the research and development tax credit and making it permanent, at a cost of $156 billion over the coming decade. Some 62 House Democrats defied their leaders and the president’s veto threat to help pass the bill Friday with a potentially veto-proof majority.

It’s not the tax break Obama opposes — his budget would revive it too. It’s the not-paying-for-it part.

But that doesn’t bother many of his fellow Democrats.

“There are certain tax breaks that really help this economy create jobs and in the end bring in more revenues because they’re there,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. “Such things as research and development tax credits. So important to have that investment in new products, new ideas and then it eventually helps. Such things as renewable energy tax credit [are] terrific. … There are some of them that are important enough that they pay for themselves in other ways.”

Asked about the White House’s veto threat of the House’s permanent R&D tax credit, Boxer said that was up to the White House.

Extending the credit “should be done,” she said.

“And I think again, it depends on the break. Some of these breaks are really important. For example, people getting a break for sending their kids to college if they’re in the middle class. This eventually means we get more money because kids get better jobs, so it depends on the breaks,” Boxer said. “The answer is some should be paid for, and some pay for themselves.”

Like R&D?

“Like R&D. That’s where I am.”

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski had similar thoughts.

“I think that the tax extender package has many things in it that really generate jobs and revenue,” said the senior Democrat from Maryland. “For example, the research and development tax thing. So I am for the extender package without an offset. … In my state, with infotech, biotech, cybersecurity, that R&D is really, really important.”

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., a member of the Finance Committee, suggested extensions shouldn’t have to be paid for.

“When you are dealing with long-term current policy, there is no need to offset those types of costs,” he said. “To the extent that you change the policy absolutely it should be offset.”

But, “if it’s just extending current law, whether for two years or permanently, I don’t have a problem doing (that) without offsets,” he said.

That puts Cardin at odds with the White House, which warned in its House veto threat that permanently reviving all of the expired tax breaks would cost about $500 billion over a decade, undoing most of the revenue Obama and Democrats extracted out of high-income earners in the fiscal cliff deal.

It wasn’t so long ago that Democrats were united on pay-as-you-go rules requiring tax cuts as well as new spending to be offset with tax hikes or spending cuts elsewhere. And Democrats and the White House spent much of last year fruitlessly demanding higher tax revenue as part of a deal to end the sequester.

But after the Senate passed a paid-for unemployment extension, which also expired in December, the tax breaks seem to live outside the rules.

House Republicans actually were forced to go back to the Rules Committee for their bill because they forgot to waive the pay-as-you-go rule the first-time around.

Like the White House, House Democratic leaders torched the Republican tax cut extension for adding to the deficit, particularly when Republicans have refused to pass a paid-for bipartisan extension of unemployment benefits.

The Senate bill has some advantages from the perspective of many Democrats and the White House. Most importantly, it’s not permanent. Finance Chairman Ron Wyden said in an interview that his bill, named the EXPIRE Act, is a “bridge” to a tax policy overhaul — and that senators would deliver colloquies on the floor to that effect.

“I made it clear that on my watch this is going to be the last extender bill,” Wyden said.

“In a literal sense, this tells everybody here’s where we are for two years, and I said my goal … is this gives people some certainty about where the landscape is going to be.”

Wyden is working with Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, to find a way to pass the bill on the floor, and he said there were no dissenters on the powerful panel, which passed the package on a voice vote.

“I kid colleagues … sometimes it seems around here you can’t get people around here to order a Coca-Cola, let alone get a unanimous vote on a significant piece of tax legislation,” he said.

That’s because there’s something for everybody in the tax package, with more than 50 tax breaks ranging from the deductibility of state sales taxes and mortgage forgiveness important to states like Nevada and Florida to breaks for the owners of racehorses, NASCAR race tracks and producers of Puerto Rican rum.

Wyden noted: “These kinds of bills, historically have not been, you know, offset. So you start with that.” He said a number of the tax extenders are “hugely important for the American economy and particularly the innovation economy.”

“The research and development credit basically helps innovation jobs because the companies are allowed, in effect, to write off the wages,” Wyden said. “This goes right to the heart of trying to encourage … innovation jobs.”

When asked  if the White House veto threat of the House permanent R&D extension would result in an effort to offset the Senate package, Wyden said the price tags of the bills differ.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., told CQ Roll Call he is considering an effort to attach an unemployment extension to the package.

Cardin also said he wished the unemployment insurance extension had not been offset, but he argued that not renewing current tax policy would do more harm to the economy and jobs.

Cardin’s close friend, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., rebuked fellow House Democratic members who voted for the permanent R&D credit without an offset

“This totally undermines any claim of fiscal rectitude. … It is such a fraud,” Hoyer said. “I talked to some members … who said, ‘Well I’m for the R&D tax credit.’ Well I’m for it too, but I’m for fiscal responsibility.”

Senate Democrats predicted the extenders package will pass, but it could still face problems on the floor, particularly from Republicans wanting to vote on amendments — something that has scuttled any number of bills in the Senate. The Club for Growth also has come out strongly against the bill as a collection of special interest loopholes that represent spending in the tax code.

Hatch is hoping amendments can be kept to a minimum.

“I’m not very excited about having amendments on the extenders package and neither is the chairman,” Hatch said. “On the other hand … I don’t know that you can foreclose amendments.”

  • erick

    I think that attaching the paid-for unemployment extension to the tax extender bill is an excellent idea. To raise any needed off set revenue pass HR 1579 the “Inclusive Prosperity Act of 2013″. This will place a tax on wall street financial speculation thru a financial transaction tax (FTT).

  • DJMiles

    I thought that attaching the unemployment extension to the Republicans $900,000,000,000 farm bill back in January was a even better idea but that turned out to be a lie.Democrats in both chambers passed the farm bill and forgot to mention the unemployment extension.

  • Steven Dennis

    It’s true Democrats and the president did not demand UI as part of the farm bill or in the Murray-Ryan budget agreement.

  • DJMiles

    I’m glad you see it just wish the rest of the 3 million would realize it before it’s to late…This has been nothing more then a political strategy to gain would be Republican voters and even if it’s not passed the unemployed that may have voted Republican just won’t vote at all but that still helps the Democrats since most Republicans tend to vote on Mid terms and Democrats usually just presidential elections. Just look at how long this was stalled in the Senate Reid blocked all Debate and refused to accept any counter offers then finally 5 Republicans authored this 5 month extension guaranteeing it’s passage and the Democrats were stuck but still waited 3 weeks to hold the vote and again blocked attempts to add a job creation measure knowing that Boehner wouldn’t allow a vote without 1…I just prey that Heller could get this attached and the Democrats don’t try to make the bill un passable again.

  • kiontra

    I agree totally

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    There are more than 2.6 million unemployed workers without benefits since late last December. While the Republican Senate has made delay after delay, and have taken senate break, after senate break, these poor families have been left hung out to dry, without any means to live, and support their families. There is really a TRUE CRISIS here, which needs our attention and action. The Republicans must STOP holding the Extension Bill “Hostage” in the senate, and PASS the much needed bill to help these poor families in need. Many of these families have faced eviction, home foreclosures, bankruptcy, and homelessness. Lives are being ruined, along with these people’s credit rating. The Republicans should not use these families for “political Leverage”, and bargaining chips. They are using the XL Pipeline Bill in exchange for passing the extension bill. Where are their party’s so called” family values”? The Republicans have shown their disdain for the poor in this country, by their refusal to help families in desperate need in the country. I WILL NEVER VOTR FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY EVER AGAIN

  • susierosie

    Democrats better not vote for this bill until unemployment insurance is extended. I hope President Obama does veto this bill.

  • Steven Dennis

    So far we haven’t heard from a single Democratic senator demanding UI pass before tax extenders. But Heller says he’s interested in trying.

  • blfdjlj

    This is why divided government is best – it keeps both sides’ fiscal irresponsibility and hypocrisy checked.

  • blfdjlj

    If it passes it will be like the Violence Against Women Act and MAYBE the House will relent and agree to extending UI.

  • erick

    Maybe the democrats have erectile dysfunction just like John Boehner is alleged to have by his tea party opponent.

  • DJMiles

    It’s going to come down to Reid and Obama….It’s clear they don’t want to extend unemployment or they would have included it in the budget,attached it to the Republican farm bill like promised,accepted counter offers from Republicans to attach COLA,allowed debate on the bills,attached 1 of the 43 house passed jobs bills or 1 of their own….This is the second time the Democrats are trying to pass the tax extenders in Dec before they expired Reid stuffed the bill with other tax cuts that Republicans oppose and they failed so we may end up seeing that again….Was just a month ago the Democrats said they were going to wait until after the midterms to even vote on them again.

  • JohnnyAngel Advocacy Group

    Pay for a tax cut? Hmmmm. Now that’s Orwell personified !!

  • Andre Leonard

    The idea of allowing more tax breaks and the unemployment extension are both wrong.

  • bowman

    Um…there hasn’t been such a thing as the Republican Senate since the Bush years. You mean the Democrat Senate is being stopped by not getting a handful of Republican Senators to sign on to their Democrat schemes.

  • Cpt. States

    Collectivists claim that particular forms of collectivism, like “democratic socialism” or “social democracy” will eliminate the problem, identified by Lenin, of who decides for whom.



  • MarineOutOfWork

    I’m 4 months behind on my mortgage while they games. Freckling Sad!!

  • Evergreen Fields

    The past century of centralization has undermined the foundations of morality and liberty to the point where civilization’s greatest threats arise from the ignorance institutionalized within its very own central governments.

  • TRonJ

    You mean “Democrat”

  • TRonJ


    We’re trying to weed out low-information voters….you won’t be missed. You’re really going to be shocked to find out Democrats really don’t care about people as much as you think.

  • greg huggins

    atatch ui extension to tax cut bill !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • greg huggins

    use the bill and attatch ui to it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Nemesis4Life

    It’s them all! Democrats don’t want it extended any more than the Republicans…sorry to say it…

  • Nemesis4Life

    I’ve been saying this…I feel like I’m beating my head against a wall. It’s the Democrats. They want the uneducated to vote for them so they are holding us hostage…I don’t understand why people don’t see it. I’m not saying the republicans are right. But, seriously…If the President and Democrats wanted it passed they would have included it in their budget deals. Oh…wait that was the Republicans…NOT!!! WAKE UP…I swear, I’m losing everything I own, severely depressed and I all’s I hear is how the democrats are for the people…that’s why we are in this mess people!!!

    Sorry I’m highly irritated…and now the Democrats think they have to elections in the bag so they will still not include UI in any of their bills… just so the idiots will vote for them and make us worse off…

  • DJMiles

    Welol the good news is the house voted on Friday to make the R&D tax credit permanent and this week the Senate is supposed to vote on the 60 tax extenders with includes a 2 year renewal on the R&D credit the house has 3 or 4 more they want to make permanent so if Harry Reid allows Heller to attach the unemployment extension to the tax extenders they will pass and just like all previous years the 2 chambers will go into negotiations….House leaders will want to cut about 1/2 Of the 60 tax breaks from the bill and make at least the business tax credits permanent. …Problem will be Obama because since 2010 he has been promising to make the R&D tax credit permanent and in the Tax extenders/unemployment Ext compromise in 2011 making the R&D tax credit permanent was part of the deal but Obama has yet to make that happend….He does still support making it permanent but I would think Republicans are going to demand it happens this time….Like previous years if Democrats are willing to negotiate the 5 month unemployment ext will likely be changed to 11 month or 1 year….The tax Extenders are must approve legislation so if Reid don’t attach unemployment to the bill then I think everyone will see that the Democrats had no intention of extending unemployment….Also have to watch he don’t play the obstruction game again because realistically the tax extenders could wait until Dec 31st to be passed since they are retroactive but since 1981 they have been renewed every time And neither party nor Obama would ever let them fail since they benefit all the company’s that donate millions to campaigns

  • Nemesis4Life

    I’m hoping they do…I will be watching closely. At this point the Democrats have to do what they say they are for, instead of just talking about it.

  • DJMiles

    Hopefully they will because their won’t be any other must pass legislation from now until the elections…They could have done this in December before both unemployment and the tax extenders expired but it didn’t happen because Reid waited until the house Recessed for Christmas and tried forcing a vote on some nomination for justice dept before the vote so things fell apart and vote was never held…As I’ve been saying since January the Democrats dragged this out for political gain..Reid promised to attach it to the Republican farm bill and use the savings as a 1 year pay for bit never did attach it and farm bill passed easily….other must pass legislation like COLA and DOC fix also would have guarantee passage but the Democrats made no attempt to attach unemployment to those either.

  • Berto Reyno

    ok so how does this work for people running out of benefits right now??

  • Berto Reyno

    if it passes that is

  • Steven Dennis

    There’s a lot of talk that tax extenders won’t be dealt with until the lame duck — so may not help at all.

  • Mark

    Has Obama tweeted anything on EUC yet??…I saw Michelle tweeted about the kidnaped girls…gotta love the Obamas…oh…I saw Barry released thousands of rapists, murderer back into your cities….cool…golly…some republic you guys have….

  • biggin

    does anyone know if and when this will happen ?

  • Steven Dennis

    Hasn’t happened yet.

  • biggin

    thanks Man

  • rawiii
  • Bella

    There is a world of difference between “threatening” and “doing”. The same as barking and biting. Americans should subscribe to: “I will believe (vote on it) it, when I see (passed into legislation) it. Simple, really.

  • Starving American

    I’m so sick of this shit.. I might as well put a gun to my own head… I’m losing everything because of these worthless fking idiots that could care less about the american people…. If you won’t give us extensions.. at least share your millions with us…………

  • Bella

    You mean “republican”. Heller is Republican. Obama threatens to veto tax extender bills unless EUC is passed first. Biggest democrat you got there, the POTUS.

  • Steven Dennis

    POTUS has not threatened to veto any bill over UI.

  • Bella

    Steven Dennis  Bella21 minutes ago

    POTUS has not threatened to veto any bill over UI.

    Really? Seems a shady rumor, no?

  • Steven Dennis

    That article misread what I wrote here:
    Veto threat mentioned UI but was not contingent on UI.

  • FedUpInNJ

    There should be a VETO STORM until the unemployment extension is passed for 4 million Americans. People are being denied the basic process of democracy by one person, John Boehner, and Obama is LETTING it happen! Obama needs to VETO every bill that crosses his desk until Congress wakes up and does their damn job!

  • FedUpInNJ

    No Republicans + NO DO NOTHING INCUMBENTS!

  • FedUpInNJ

    Republicans are obstructionist who have left members of their own party out in the cold for their own political agendas. ONLY REPUBLICANS period.

  • Guest
  • FedUpInNJ
  • FedUpInNJ

    Both parties are in it for themselves. INDEPENDENT crazies would be better than what we have, thats what I’m going for, a total INDEPENDENT House and Senate. Dems + Repubs have PROVED to be ineffective at representing the people who voted them in and pay their salaries.

  • FedUpInNJ

    You get nothing. After your 26 weeks (or whatever your state mandates) you get nothing. What WILL happen is you will go through all of your savings, sell things you worked hard to acquire, if you have any type of 401K etc.. you will cash it out just to pay your bills. Your “representatives” in Congress could care less, they are more concerned with appointing their friends to jobs and giving money to foreign countries who spit in our faces. Aren’t you proud to be an American who worked hard all their life just so ONE scumbag can ruin your life? Thank John Boehner.

  • Steven Dennis

    That story is from 2012.

  • Oliver Ales

    Since prices serve as communications beacons, central government attempts to set prices distort the signals upon which prosperity depends.

  • TRonJ

    You’re naive if you you think independents are any different. Human nature doesn’t cate about party identity. The reasons why we’re so dysfunctional right now is for reasons that aren’t very apparent to those outside of DC. Even the media really doesn’t get it. Things are going to get a lot worse because of the actions of a few.

  • SometimeReader

    What is going on in Washington? Are all of them tone deaf?
    Forget about tax cuts! Concentrate on getting the Extended Unemployment Benefits bill passed – that’s the priority given that there are no jobs. The only reason that the unemployment rate has decreased a bit over the past several months is because so many of the long-term unemployed are dropping out of the work force. The only jobs are there are part-time or temporary minimum wage jobs and there are 3+ applicants for every open position. Newsflash: more than 3 million Americans are out of work WITHOUT ANY MONEY COMING IN. They are losing their homes, their car and hope that Washington is going to do anything about the situation.
    If the Dems are going to consider ANOTHER tax cut bill it MUST be tied to the Extended Unemployment Benefits bill. Sen. Heller proposed tying the two bills but learned that “there’s no appetite for doing so among the Dems in the Senate.” REALLY, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????? Boehner has already said that there won’t be a vote on extension of unemployment benefits absent “job creation initiatives” — aka: tax cuts for corporate america and the 1%. What does that mean Dems? There’s a deal to be had. MAKE THE DEAL – tie the tax cuts bill to the unemployment benefits bill and get it done.
    You “legislators” are idiots – stop with the BS and get something done for the American people!

  • SometimeReader

    If a tax cut bill is passed, the Pres. better VETO it!!!!

  • SometimeReader

    Sen. Heller said there was no appetite among the Dems to tie the tax cuts bill to the extended unemployment benefits bill. The past few months have caused me to believe that the Dems are just as bad as the Repubs. It’s a sad state of affairs in DC.

  • SometimeReader

    The White House had an opportunity to come out yesterday with the VETO threat, but didn’t. I suspect that the Pres. is NOT going to VETO the tax cut bill if it is passed. I’d like him to come out ASAP and say the extender will be VETOED!!!!!!!!!!

  • SometimeReader

    Yep, Dems don’t care about the unemployment extension. Like you said – should have been in the budget bill that was passed in Dec. and several other bills since — it wasn’t. That tells me all I need to know about the priorities of the Dems.

  • DJMiles

    This is a good article it shows what many have tried explaining to people for months that the Democrats have no intention of passing a unemployment extension!
    Raising the Min Wage,Immigration reform,Equality,Unemployment etc… Are all issues that affect large groups of people the Democrats want to take people from these groups that would have voted Republican in November and either pursue them to vote Democrat or not vote at all! You probably heard the president a lot lately talking about how Democrat voters usually don’t show up to vote for mid term elections only presidential elections Republican voters usually do vote for midterms so the Democrats are using a strategy to that may not gain them votes but will likely persuade Republican voters to not vote in November. .

    Unemployment for example will effect 5.8 million people by November let’s just say 3 million of them are Republicans . If they could convince the 5.8 million people that the Republicans are to blame for not extending unemployment then the 3 million Republican voters will likely turn against their party. After dragging this out for months and bringing us to today where is clear the Democrats are even more to blame for not extending unemployment all the unemployed are fed up with both parties.Unemployent won’t be extended and non of the unemployed are going to be rushing to the polls in November but what the Democrats did accomplish is the several million would be Republican voters also won’t be voting this November..
    Winning a election is based on how many people vote in total but on how many votes the Democratic candidate or Republican candidate gets.

  • DJMiles

    Their is no priorities in this election year other then to force Republicans to oppose every bill that comes to the floor. Unemployment would have never even passed the Senate if it wasn’t for the 5 Republicans that were tired of the Democrats political games…they authored the 5 month extension and after months of Democrats saying their for extending unemployment they obviously couldn’t vote against it…When it came time for amendments Republicans tried to add a job creation measure that the house demanded but Reid blocked all amendments to ensure the house wouldn’t approve the bill.

  • mrmano_0

    Republicans have placed us in this situation in the first place.
    Paul Ryan blocked the unemployment extension from the budget.
    Senate Republicans whittled the year long Democratic extension down to 5months.
    Republican house speaker and majority leader have prevented the extension from being voted on in the house.

    Republicans are America’s greatest threat foreign or domestic.

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