What: All Issues : Fair Taxation : More Equitable Distribution of Tax Burden : HR 2669. (Student loans reconciliation) Procedural question on whether to repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax/On the motion (2007 senate Roll Call 271)
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HR 2669. (Student loans reconciliation) Procedural question on whether to repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax/On the motion
senate Roll Call 271     Jul 19, 2007
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This vote was on whether to allow an amendment by Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., that would permanently repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Devised in 1969, the AMT was intended as a way to capture more tax revenues from a handful of very wealthy people so adept at using loopholes that they paid little into the federal treasury. But the program has come under scrutiny in recent years, because an increasing number of middle-class taxpayers have found themselves subject to the tax. This is largely because the AMT's formulas do not account for inflation or recent tax cuts.

Kyl's amendment was offered to a bill that would, in essence, take nearly $19 billion in federal subsidies away from student loan lenders and instead redirect that money into new student loans, among other items related to enabling more students to be able to afford college tuitions.

"This bill affords us an opportunity to correct the problem now, and we should. We are halfway through the year, and the tax is adding up. The AMT should be repealed as soon as possible," Kyl said.

John Kerry, D-Mass, said Kyl's amendment is irresponsible and would cost the federal treasury $872 billion in foregone tax revenues.

"If we are going to do the AMT, which all of us believe we ought to do, we ought to do it in a responsible way that raises the question of unnecessary spending, closing tax loopholes, and doing what is necessary to try to pay for this. That is what my amendment suggests. If you want to vote somehow to do something about the AMT, let's vote in a responsible way, do it in a way that repeals those loopholes, looks at the Tax Code, and pays for that purpose," Kerry said.

Kerry then offered an amendment to Kyl's amendment that would have put the Senate on record as endorsing the view that Congress should provide relief from the AMT as long as it did not increase the deficit. However, Kyl used a procedural maneuver to defeat Kerry's amendment as not related (or "germane") enough to the underlying student loan bill. (See vote 270)

Kent Conrad, D-N.D., then used the same procedural maneuver to try to kill Kyl's amendment as not germane 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 Conrad moved to have the amendment defeated on the grounds that it was not "germane" enough to the underlying bill, Kyl called a vote on waiving that Senate rule for his amendment, which is what this vote was on.

By a vote of 47-49, the Senate rejected Kyl's request to waive its rules and allow his amendment to go forward. All but one Republican present voted for the waiver motion (George Voinovich of Ohio), while all but one Democrat present voted against the waiver motion (Ben Nelson of Nebraska). Thus, the waiver motion was defeated, and as a result Kyl's amendment that would have permanently repealed the AMT was killed.

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