GOP Pulls Tax Bill Off Schedule Rather than Risk Another Embarrassing Floor Defeat

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) released the following statement this morning after the Republican leadership announced that it had pulled the “Taxpayer Protection and IRS Accountability Act of 2003” (H.R. 1538) off the Suspension Calendar today:

            “House GOP leaders have been stung repeatedly by their own arrogance, and I suspect that is why they have pulled this legislation off today’s Floor schedule.

             “Last week, Republican leaders tried to save face by concocting an excuse to vote for the Democratic Motion to Instruct on the budget after determining that Republicans would vote for the Motion and it would prevail.  And yesterday, 67 Republicans bucked their leadership and joined a unanimous Democratic Caucus in supporting our Motion to Instruct on the Supplemental Appropriations bill, which instructed House conferees to agree to a Senate provision extending unemployment compensation for workers in the air transportation industry.

            “Today, the GOP leadership risked yet another embarrassing defeat on the Floor had it persisted in pushing its version of the ‘Taxpayer Protection and IRS Accountability Act.’  Make no mistake, Democrats support the underlying bill.  It would make technical improvements to the IRS process for taxpayers, including providing an extra two weeks to those who pay electronically to file their taxes.

            “But the Republican leadership – and the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee – injected sharp partisanship into legislation that would otherwise enjoy broad bipartisan support.  The GOP insisted on inserting an extraneous provision in this bill that would gut consumer protections in the health care provisions of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program enacted last year.  In essence, this provision would give insurers the leverage to ‘cherry pick’ healthy workers and exclude those who are older or in poor health.  Further, it would establish a loophole through which insurers can avoid meeting the requirements of the TAA and undermine states’ ability to negotiate coverage that includes the consumer protections.

            “It’s ironic that last April 10th – almost one year to the day – a very similar bill was rejected by a vote of 205-219.  Democrats objected then that Republicans had inserted an extraneous provision that would have opened loopholes in campaign finance disclosure laws.

             “Why is it that Republicans are using this legislation as a Trojan horse for a misguided and unacceptable measure?  Don’t they understand that their own intransigence is leaving them with legislative defeats and a Floor strategy that is in disarray?  Democrats urge the GOP to bring this widely supported legislation up for a vote without this poison pill.”

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