The Senate on March 14 approved by a 74-to-22 margin,a $109-billion transportation authorization measure, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) (Sen 1813), leaving it up to the House to advance the bill to President Obama’s desk for his signature. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he will bring the bill, or something similar, to the floor but passage is far from assured as GOP leadership struggles to rein in its members.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., again urged House Republicans to take up and pass the bill. “The job-creating programs funded by this bill will expire in just a few weeks, and I urge my colleagues in the House to pass this bipartisan bill without delay,” said Reid. “If there was ever a piece of legislation that should not turn into a partisan fight, this is it. I hope my Republican colleagues in the House will choose to join us in this bipartisan, job-creating effort instead of trying to appease the Tea Party by manufacturing another fight.”
Prior to passage, Senate lawmakers approved by voice vote a manager’s amendment offered by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., which proposes changes to the pension stabilization provision sought by business community. According to a GOP summary, the two-year interest rate average would still be calculated each year as under current law. Beginning in 2012, the rate would be adjusted up or down, if necessary, so that it falls within 10% above or below the 25-year historic average of interest rates.
The immediate effect of the proposal, in the present low interest rate environment, would be to raise interest rates for funding purposes and thereby lower the minimum required pension contribution. The provision is estimated to raise $9.467 billion in revenue over ten years, of which $4.97 billion would be provided to the Highway Trust Fund.
The tax title approved by the Senate Finance Committee raises revenue through several methods, including: a transfer from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund to the Highway Trust Fund, the revocation or denial of a passport in case of certain unpaid taxes, a temporary modification of alternative minimum tax (AMT) limitations on tax-exempt bonds, depreciation and amortization rules for highway and related property subject to long-term leases, and the transfer of amounts attributable to certain duties on imported vehicles into the Highway Trust Fund.
Additional revenue would be supplied through the amendment process, including special measures against foreign jurisdictions, financial institutions and others that significantly impede United States tax enforcement, clarification of tax basis of life insurance contracts, an excise tax on roll-your-own-cigarette machines, tax reporting for life insurance sales transactions, and a temporary increase in the small issuer exception to tax-exempt interest expense allocation rules for financial institutions.
The highway bill would extend current highway taxes for two years and direct the tax revenue to the Highway Trust Fund. The legislation extends the current 18.3-cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline and special motor fuels, the 24.3-cents-per-gallon tax on diesel and kerosene, and other taxes on heavy vehicles and their tires. Lawmakers are under pressure to pass the multi-year reauthorization of highway spending before current law expires on March 31.
By Jeff Carlson, CCH News Staff
Tax-Related Portions of Boxer Amendment 1830, Sen. 1813
SFC News Release: Baucus Helps Lead Passage of Job-Creating Highway Bill
Joint Committee on Taxation Estimated Revenue Effects Of The Revenue Provisions Contained In S. 1813, As Amended, The “Highway Investment, Job Creation, And Economic Growth Act Of 2012,”JCX-25-12
Joint Committee on Taxation Estimated General Fund And Trust Fund Effects Of The Revenue Provisions Contained In S. 1813, As Amended, The “Highway Investment, Job Creation, And Economic Growth Act Of 2012″JCX-26-12
Summary of the Senate Finance Committee Title to S. 1813, MAP-21