Senator Ron Wydon (Dem of Oregon) took over this week as the new Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Wydon replaces Senator Max Baucus, who was recently appointed as the United States Ambassador to Japan. Like Senator Baucus, Wydon favors an early passage of tax extenders, including WOTC.
By mid January, Senator Wydon had committed to make passage of tax extenders an early priority for 2014. Roll Call reported on January 16th
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that renewing more than 50 tax breaks, known as tax extenders, that expired at the end of the year will be a top priority for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., when he gets the Finance Committee gavel in the coming weeks.
“I talked to Wyden today and he’s going to focus on that as soon as he gets the job,” Reid said.
As Wydon steps into his new job, circumstances surrounding WOTC and other tax extenders have not changed significantly; if anything, however, things are at least inching toward a favorable outcome.
While pressure is mounting, House Republican leadership so far has not moved on tax extenders. Therefore, at this point the WOTC Coalition chooses to focus its efforts on seeking a bi-partisan tax- extenders proposal from the Senate Finance Committee.
Paul Suplizio, President of the WOTC Coalition, said on Friday,
“We need to concentrate now on two things—(1) pressing Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee to reach agreement on a two-year bi-partisan extenders bill, and (2) pressing all other senators to urge their leaders to pass a two-year extenders bill as soon as possible.”
CALL TO ACTION:
The following is published here with permission.
Subject: Action For WOTC And Tax Extenders Shifts To Senate
From: “Paul Suplizio” <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, February 07, 2014 2:20 pm
February 7, 2014
Speaker John Boehner’s first order of business after the GOP retreat last week was to canvass House Republicans for provisions they want on a bill to raise the debt ceiling, which must be passed this month. His goal is to consolidate GOP support for the debt bill by attaching “sweeteners” that would attract votes.
Thanks to plentiful contacts made by our Coalition and other extenders before and during the GOP retreat last week, we followed up by approaching the Speaker with a proposal to attaching WOTC and other extenders to the debt ceiling bill.
There are around 90 Republicans in the House who won’t vote for an increase in the debt limit on principle, so Democratic votes are needed to pass a bill. WOTC and other extenders have strong Democratic support and are in the President’s budget, so we believe he would sign an increase in the debt ceiling with the extenders attached.
Today the Speaker had made no decision but appears to be settling on a bill lifting the debt ceiling with a Medicare doctors fix and military pensions attached. The debt limit doesn’t have to be increased until February 27th so the Speaker could take his time, but House Democrats are holding a retreat next week and the Senate is out the entire following week so floor time is limited.
Our view is the House won’t produce an extenders bill unless the Speaker tells Ways and Means to do so, and that hasn’t happened yet. With the House immobile on the extenders at this point, our best opportunity now lies in the Senate.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid has been show-casing Democratic priorities—voting on unemployment benefits this week, scheduling military retirement benefits next week—and we know the extenders are high in his priorities. He’s still the lead sponsor of the only significant extenders bill in Congress, S. 1859, and he could bring it up again at any time. On debt ceiling, he’s arguing for a clean bill but that doesn’t rule out a deal with Senator McConnell.
Now that Senator Baucus has been confirmed as Ambassador to Japan and Senator Ron Wyden has become chairman of the Finance Committee, we can urge the new chairman to work with Senator Hatch, the Republican leader on Finance, to get a bi-partisan deal to the Senate soonest. A bi-partisan deal on the extenders will likely assure passage, whereas Republicans have objected to the Reid bill, S.1859, because it hasn’t been pruned of extenders they don’t believe are worth the cost.
We need to concentrate now on two things—(1) pressing Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee to reach agreement on a two-year bi-partisan extenders bill, and (2) pressing all other senators to urge their leaders to pass a two-year extenders bill as soon as possible.
Initial contact by fax on your organization’s letterhead must be followed up to be effective. Arrange a meeting or phone call with your senator, or work with his or her legislative director to make sure your message has gotten through. Then check in once a week with the legislative staff to urge speedy action because of the harm to those WOTC is meant to serve–past program interruptions have resulted in hiring of WOTC workers being cut close to half.
Here’s a message you can put into your own words and embellish with the experience of your own organization:
Message for Democratic or Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee:
The work opportunity tax credit expired last December, and as yet the Senate has failed to move S.1859, the tax extenders bill introduced by Senator Reid. Moreover, the one-year extension of WOTC in S.1859 is no longer appropriate because Congress may not return after the coming election to pass another extension. Handing the ball to the new Congress could cause another five or six month interruption of WOTC hiring, which was on pace to reach one million jobs for veterans, people with disabilities, and long-term unemployed workers on food stamps last year. These WOTC hires are vital for people who have the toughest time finding a job and the tax credits that flow into the local economy are important to our communities, yet every interruption cuts the pace of hiring by half. Please work with your colleagues on Finance to send a bi-partisan two-year extension to the Senate as soon as possible. We also urge you to remove the age-40 cap on workers receiving food stamps, which discriminates against the many low-income seniors looking for work.
Message for all other senators:
The work opportunity tax credit expired last December and still the Senate has failed to move S.1859, the tax extenders bill introduced by Senator Reid. WOTC was on pace to reach one million jobs for veterans, people with disabilities, and long-term unemployed workers on food stamps this year, but we know from past experience every interruption cuts the pace of hiring by half. These WOTC hires are vital for people who have the toughest time finding a job, and the tax credits that flow into the local economy are important to our communities. Please urge Senator Reid and Senator McConnell to work together to craft a bi-partisan tax extenders bill, including a two-year extension of WOTC, and pass it as soon as possible.
Many thanks for your outpouring of support for our efforts in the House these past two weeks. We have a real opportunity in the Senate now—by re-doubling our action there, we can get a tax extenders bill to the floor as we did in December.
Should you have any question, do not hesitate to contact me at 703-587-4566.
PAUL E. SUPLIZIO
President, WOTC Coalition