What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Insuring Government Has Adequate Financing to Function : HR 2669. (Student loans reconciliation) Procedural question on whether to make permanent education tax breaks enacted by President Bush in 2001/On the motion (2007 senate Roll Call 265)
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HR 2669. (Student loans reconciliation) Procedural question on whether to make permanent education tax breaks enacted by President Bush in 2001/On the motion
senate Roll Call 265     Jul 19, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on whether to allow an amendment by John Sununu, R-N.H., that would make permanent the education tax breaks enacted as part of President Bush's 2001 package of tax cuts. The amendment was offered to a bill that seeks to overhaul student loans.

"We have an important bill that tries to address accessibility of higher education for millions of Americans, and my amendment addresses that very subject by extending a number of important provisions that are currently in tax law, but they expire in 2010. These are provisions that have broad bipartisan support," Sununu said. These incentives include tax breaks for employers who provide employees with tuition assistance, tax exempt bonds for some education facilities, tax deductions for Americans seeking education, and an array of others. These tax breaks would be paid for through increasing the deficit, rather than with new revenue or cuts in spending in other places.

Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had offered an amendment to Sununu's amendment that would have put the Senate on record as endorsing the view that Congress should provide tax relief for families "in order to fully offset the costs and forcing taxpayers to pay substantially more interest to foreign creditors; and that such relief should be provided on an appropriate legislative vehicle that won't jeopardize legislation providing greater access and affordability to higher education for millions of students."

Sununu countered that Schumer's amendment is a "sense of the Senate that we agree with all these tax provisions. But we don't quite agree enough to actually write them into law. I think that is a little disappointing and disingenuous." Schumer's amendment was defeated.

After Schumer's amendment fell, Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., used a procedural maneuver to try to defeat Sununu's amendment as not related (or "germane") enough to the underlying bill. In some cases, when portions of a bill violate certain congressional rules, the bill can be quickly defeated with these procedural motions unless the Senate votes to waive the rule in question. One of these Senate rules requires that amendments be related to the subject of the bill itself. When Kennedy moved to have the amendment defeated on the grounds that it was not "germane" enough to the underlying bill, Sununu called a vote on waiving that Senate rule for his amendment, which is what this vote was on.

By a vote of 47-48, the Senate rejected Sununu's request to waive its rules and allow his amendment to go forward. All but one Republican present voted for the motion to waive the rules and allow Sununu's amendment to go forward (George Voinovich of Ohio). All but one Democrat present voted against the motion to waive the rules (Ben Nelson of Nebraska). Thus, the waiver motion was defeated, and as a result Sununu's amendment that would have made President Bush's 2001 education tax breaks permanent was killed.

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