Business fumes as Democrats blast GOP for blocking corporate tax credits

Business fumes as Democrats blast GOP for blocking corporate tax credits

Senate Democrats say Senate Republicans are blocking an expansion of the child tax credit and a package of corporate tax credits, even though business groups are clamoring for its passage, because they want to deny President Biden a legislative victory five months before Election Day.

It’s the second time this year presidential politics have created a rift between Senate Republicans and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, two of the biggest business trade groups in Washington.

Earlier this year, Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly to block a bipartisan border security deal that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed and the Business Roundtable applauded — along with the National Border Patrol Council and The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page — after former President Trump told allies on Capitol Hill he didn’t want to give Biden a win on border security.

Democrats say Republicans again are blocking a major bipartisan initiative to help Trump.

“The business community still really wants that; we really want it. It’s all presidential politics — they don’t want to give Biden a win. That’s 100 percent what it is,” a senior Senate Democrat said of the Senate Republican opposition to the House-passed Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024.

The senator said Senate Democrats are stepping up their efforts to break through the Senate GOP blockade.

“We are trying very hard. There’s no real reason they’re objecting,” the source said.

The package would restore research and development expensing for businesses, which lapsed in 2022.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has urged the Senate to approve the package, which the House passed at the end of January, and warned that if research and development expensing were not restored retroactively, it would “result in irreversible harm to U.S. innovation and competitiveness.”

The Business Roundtable has also urged the Senate “to approve this essential legislation and send it to the president’s desk.”

Joshua Bolten, the CEO of the Business Roundtable, said it would “boost business investment at home, create American jobs and strengthen U.S. competitiveness.”

The bill also enhanced the child tax credit to help low-income families cope with inflation and boosted tax relief for the victims of natural and man-made disasters, such as the 2023 toxic rail derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said he agrees with his Democratic colleagues’ view that Senate Republicans have blocked the tax package to help Trump’s chances of victory by denying Biden a legislative win.

“No question about it. They said that right from the get-go,” Wyden told The Hill.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), a senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, told a reporter earlier this year Senate Republicans didn’t want to make Biden “look good” and boost his chances of reelection.

And he expressed his concern that Biden’s reelection would wipe out any chance of renewing Trump’s 2017 tax cuts before they expire at the end of next year.

“Passing a tax bill that makes the president look good, mailing out checks before the election, means he could be reelected and then we won’t extend the 2017 tax cuts,” Grassley told Semafor the same day the House passed the tax bill.

For Democrats, it’s an echo of what happened to the bipartisan border security deal negotiated between Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and the White House.

Only four Senate Republicans ended up voting for that package after Trump urged his Senate allies to kill it to deny Biden a victory.

Wyden crafted the stalled $79 billion tax package with House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.), and it passed the House overwhelmingly, 357-70.

It would restore Section 174 expensing for research and development investments and 100 percent “bonus” depreciation, which allows businesses to deduct more depreciation costs than normally allowed.

And it includes a low-income housing tax credit to increase the supply of affordable housing.

The package is almost fully paid for by moving up the deadline for filing backdated pandemic-related employee retention tax credit claims, according to an analysis by PwC.

Amanda Critchfield, a spokesperson for Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho), the top-ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, said her boss “fully supports extending the pro-growth business provisions” and “also supports expanding the child tax credit to provide additional tax relief to working families.”

But she said Crapo “has policy concerns with the current bill, as do other Republican members, and he has been clear that he would like to find a compromise that a majority of Republican senators can support.”

A tax lobbyist familiar with the effort to pass the bill said the business community has stepped up its lobbying efforts directed at Senate Republicans.

“The Chamber and other business groups are very firmly for it, and they are making the rounds,” the source said. “The business community has upped its effort, and they’re saying because of the expiration of 174 and expensing, we really do have tangible economic harm. Companies are doing grasstops lobbying at home, and that’s starting to sink in.

“The business community is upping the ante,” the source said.

Watson McLeish, senior vice president for tax policy at the U.S. Chamber, warned in a statement Monday that the Senate’s failure to move the tax package is putting a burden on employers.

“As the tax extenders package remains stalled in the Senate, some small and midsize businesses have been forced to take out high-interest loans, raise prices, pare back operations, and even cut jobs just to survive and pay their taxes,” McLeish said. “We urge the Senate to take up this legislation immediately after the Independence Day recess and send it to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”

A Senate Republican aide said Senate GOP leaders are deferring to Crapo on how to handle the issue and pointed out that he may want to defer action on expired tax breaks until after the election, at which point Republicans will know whether they will control the Senate in 2025.

Some Republican senators think they’ll get a better deal on extending expired provisions if they control the White House and Senate, though waiting until after the election is a risk, because Democrats could keep the White House and win back control of the House.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters earlier this month he would like to bring the bill to the floor if it can pick up more Senate Republican support.

“I supported it the minute it was announced. I think it’s a good bill; I was very proud that I pushed hard and got into the bill the low-income housing tax credit,” Schumer told reporters last week. “I’m currently working with Chairman Wyden to try and get something done. It’s not dead.”

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