This vote was on whether to allow Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to offer an amendment that would have restored an expired tax incentive for investment into research and development, and made it permanent. The amendment was offered to a bill that would create several tax incentives for small businesses, as well as authorizing a small business lending fund.
Hatch sought to offer his amendment during a time in which amendments are not normally allowed; in order to do this, Hatch asked that the rules against offering amendments at that time be waived, which is what this vote was on.
Hatch said the Senate has extended this tax credit temporarily for a number of years, but that his amendment would make it permanent. “In recent weeks, I have been trying to add a research credit extension to the small business lending bill that is before us today. Unfortunately, my efforts have been in vain because … I have not had the opportunity to offer such an amendment to this bill,” Hatch said. “What is strange is my pleadings for this provision to be added to this bill have so far fallen on deaf ears. Therefore, I have had to resort to this procedural motion to suspend the rules in order for this provision to be added to the bill.”
Max Baucus, D-Mont., he has been working on a separate bill that would extend many different expired or expiring tax credits, including the one Hatch’s amendment sought to restore. (However, Republicans have been blocking that bill, saying that it would spend too much money.) Baucus then asked the consent of the Senate to allow him to bring up his tax credit bill and amend it to the small business bill.
“My good friend, the Senator from Iowa, talked about how good it would be if we removed uncertainty from the law. The unanimous consent I am about to propound would give Senators the opportunity to remove much uncertainty. This unanimous consent request, if agreed to, would extend the biodiesel tax credit the Senator from Iowa spoke about. It would also extend the R&D tax credit the Senator from Utah talked about,” Baucus said. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, then objected to Baucus’ motion, saying that “this side wants an open amendment process. We are tired of every time a bill comes to the floor in the greatest deliberative body in the world, they tie up the parliamentary tree so we can’t have honest amendments.”
Baucus then said that this parliamentary maneuver by Republicans “is not serious legislating. It is simply an attempt to delay the passage of the small business bill.” By a vote of 51-48, the motion to allow Hatch’s amendment to be offered was rejected. Though more voted yes than no, in this instance it needed a two-thirds majority vote of those senators present and voting (66 in this case) in order to consider it approved. All but one Republican present voted to allow the amendment. Of Democrats present, 12 voted to allow the amendment and 45 voted against (including a majority of the most progressive members). The end result is that Hatch was not allowed to offer his amendment, and the small business bill went forward without language that would have permanently extended an expired research and development tax credit.