Daily Tax Update - January 28, 2011: Senate Passes Changes To Floor Procedures - Filibusters Left Intact

SENATE PASSES CHANGES TO FLOOR PROCEDURES – FILIBUSTERS LEFT INTACT: Yesterday, the Senate approved changes designed to ease gridlock and procedural delays on the Senate floor, although Senators will retain the right to filibuster legislation.  The two changes eliminate “secret” holds where a single senator, without revealing his or her name or motive, can block votes on legislation or nominations, and waive the reading of amendments that have been publicly available for at least 72 hours.  Although Senators will retain the right to use filibusters, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that they had reached an “informal agreement” to curtail the use of filibusters.   Reid said, “It’s always been central to the Senate, and it always will be.”  Reid added, “We want the Senate to move deliberately.  But we want it to move.  We have to find a balance that will encourage us to debate and that also enables us to legislate.” 

  • Regarding not passing changes to filibusters, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said that the possibility of Democrats losing the majority in the 2012 elections was a consideration.  Durbin said, “One of the motivating factors was you have to anticipate what’s going to happen in the next election.  If we pick up seats or if we lose them, and if we lose the majority, how would the Republicans treat us?”  Durbin added, “The nature of the Senate is to try to anticipate, if the tables were turned, what it means.  And that’s why I think the assurance from McConnell and from Reid is important that we maintain at least that understanding and that gentlemen’s agreement.”
  • Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, added, “What goes around comes around here.”  Cornyn added, “I would say that [Democrats] realize that there’s a good chance they’re going to find themselves in the minority, and so what they’re asking for is if the rules are going to apply one way when they’re in the majority, that they’ll be applied the same way if Republicans are in the majority.  That’s not an unreasonable request.”

WITNESS LIST FOR SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE TAX REFORM HEARING ANNOUNCED: The witnesses testifying at the Senate Budget Committee's February 2nd tax reform hearing are: C. Eugene Steuerle -- Institute Fellow and Richard B. Fisher, Chair, The Urban Institute; Donald B. Marron -- Director, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center/Visiting Professor, Georgetown Public Policy Institute; Dr. Rosanne Altshuler -- Professor, Rutgers University; and Lawrence B. Lindsey -- President and Chief Executive Officer, The Lindsey Group.

TREASURY PUBLISHES LIST OF BOYCOTT COUNTRIES: The Treasury has published its quarterly list of countries which require or may require participation in, or cooperation with, an international boycott.  The list is unchanged.

TAX BILLS INTRODUCED JANUARY 27TH:
1. [112nd] S.215: A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to require oil polluters to pay the full cost of oil spills, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Menendez, Robert [NJ] (introduced 1/27/2011) Cosponsors (None)
Committees: Senate Finance
Latest Major Action: 1/27/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

2. [112nd] S.221: A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the health insurance costs tax credit, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] (introduced 1/27/2011) Cosponsors (3)
Committees: Senate Finance
Latest Major Action: 1/27/2011 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance

INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE - CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE:
As provided for in Treasury regulations, advice (if any) relating to federal taxes that is contained in this communication (including attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (1) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (2) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any plan or arrangement addressed herein.

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