Tax Cuts 2014: GOP Blocks Business Tax Breaks Over Obamacare Provision

One of the largest packages of tax cuts so far in 2014, which was broadly supported by both Democrats and Republicans, came to the Senate floor for debate Thursday. However, Republicans in the Senate blocked it even though almost all of them favor the bill.

The bill would give $85 billion in tax breaks to corporations and big businesses, including Vegas casinos and NASCAR racetracks, but Republicans in the Senate, though they unfailingly support corporate tax cuts, wanted to add an amendment that would repeal a part of the “Obamacare” health care bill.

When Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to allow any amendments to the 2014 tax cuts, Republicans refused to let the bill come up for debate on the Senate floor.

A Thursday vote required 60 of the Senate’s 100 members to vote in favor of moving forward with debate on the bill, under the Senate filibuster rules. But the bill received only 53 votes in favor, a majority but not the required “super majority.”

Only one Senate Republican voted in favor of moving ahead with the broadly supported 2014 corporate tax cuts, Mark Kirk of Illinois.

But Reid’s refusal to allow amendments to the 2014 tax cuts package was a double-edged sword. Senators Dean Heller of Nevada and Jack Reed of Rhode Island had planned to amend the tax cuts bill with the 2014 unemployment benefits extension bill passed in early April by the Senate. The unemployment extension is broadly backed by Democrats, but Reid waved off that amendment, too.

The Obamacare amendment that the GOP wanted to attach to the tax cuts package would have repealed a tax on medical devices that is part of the new health care law.

But even though they usually support business tax cuts, they don’t support them all. Republicans also wanted to amend the $85 billion tax cuts package to remove a $13 billion tax break for the wind energy industry, to help that business compete with big oil companies.

“We have a tax bill here that members from both sides want to improve and support. Yet we don’t get a chance to amend it,” McConnell complained.

“Republicans can’t take ‘yes’ for an answer — they just voted against the second bipartisan bill in less than a week,” Reid responded. The Democratic leader chided Republicans, saying that they would likely hear from “their friends down on K Street,” for actually voting against the big 2014 tax cuts.