This vote was on a motion to end debate and move to a final, up-or-down vote on legislation providing tax breaks for U.S. small businesses that hire workers or purchase new equipment.
Senate Democrats sought to hold a vote on passage of a bill, introduced by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), that would have given employers a tax credit for hiring new workers or giving raises to their current employees. Companies also would have received tax breaks on new equipment purchased during 2012. However, before the Senate could vote on the bill, it would have to pass a motion for “cloture,” which sets a time at which the otherwise unlimited debate would come to an end.
Supporters of Sen. Reid’s bill touted a nonpartisan economic analysis that suggested the bill would lead to the creation of 1 million U.S. jobs. They argued that it was critically needed to help boost a slow economic recovery.
“This bill says to small businesses across America: We will give you a tax credit if you will create jobs or if you will expand your payroll – a tax credit – and we will give you a quicker depreciation on those items of equipment – technology and capital – that you purchase now. This would be a shot in the arm,” Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) said. “This is about America, its workers, its families, and our economy. If there was ever a time when we should come together on a bipartisan basis, it is now.”
Republicans called the Senate’s consideration of the tax-break bill a “charade” and objected to Democratic procedural maneuvers that prevented more amendments from being offered to the underlying bill. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) argued that the Senate should be focused on addressing burdensome regulations, the national debt, and the looming expiration of the so-called “Bush tax cuts,” which would lead to a significant tax increase for most Americans.
“When this charade is completed, I hope the majority leader will decide we need to have a debate about taxes and what we can do to promote economic growth (and) a debate on whether we are going to extend the rates that will expire January 1, meaning higher taxes for nearly 1 million small businesses to whom we are looking to get us out of this recession and get Americans back to work,” Sen. Thune said. “I hope that will be the debate and vote we will ultimately have when this particular political exercise is completed today.”
Even though the motion to end debate received 53 “yea” votes and only 44 voted “nay,” the motion was defeated because it was brought up under Senate rules that require 60 votes for passage. Voting “yea” were 51 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 43 Republicans and 1 Democrat. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to end debate and proceed to a final, up-or-down vote on legislation providing tax breaks for U.S. small businesses that hire workers or purchase new equipment.