Senate Continues Work on Highway Reauthorization Bill, Adopts Several Tax-Related Amendments

Senate lawmakers continued work on federal highway legislation (Sen 1813) on March 8, approving an amendment by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., that would reauthorize payments to rural schools, offset, in part, by excise taxes on roll-your-own cigarette machines. Another amendment offered by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and adopted by the Senate, would prevent offshore tax havens and money laundering.

Meanwhile, unsuccessful negotiations within the House Republican caucus led House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to threaten to shelve the House GOP version of the highway reauthorization bill and consider the Senate version. Senate lawmakers could complete work on their highway bill during the week of March 12, when the House lawmakers are out of town for a week-long District work period. Lawmakers are hoping to pass a multi-year reauthorization of highway spending before current law expires at the end of March.

The final transportation legislation, which includes a reauthorization of highway gasoline taxes, could include a host of tax changes, such as energy tax provisions and, possibly, other business tax extenders or job creation measures added by the House in conference. Senate progress was made possible after lawmakers agreed on March 7 to narrow the group of amendments that would receive votes, including amendments on energy taxes extenders, gas tax flexibility and international taxation.

The Levin amendment, agreed to by a voice vote, would crack down on foreign jurisdictions, financial institutions and others that significantly impede U.S. tax enforcement. A separate amendment by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., would set up a Treasury Department trust fund for Gulf Coast restoration.

By Stephen K. Cooper, CCH News Staff

Baucus Amendment No. 1835 to Sen 1813

Nelson Amendment No. 1822 to Sen 1813

Levin Amendment No. 1818 to Sen 1813

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