The Senate Finance Committee has approved approximately $522 billion in tax cuts, incentives and investments by a vote of 14-9.
All the Republicans on the committee voted against the measure, except for Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. The bill includes $342 billion in tax cuts for families and businesses, including a one-year patch for the alternative minimum tax, and will be combined with other spending measures. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 21-9 on Tuesday to approve $366 billion in spending.
The package approved by the Finance Committee also includes approximately $180 billion in investments to create jobs in health information technology, to help out-of-work Americans keep their health care coverage and find new employment, and to give aid to struggling state economies.
Several amendments from Republicans and Democrats on the Finance Committee were added to the bill on Tuesday, including a $69.8 billion measure from ranking member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., to protect up to 24 million working families from the alternative minimum tax this year.
Another amendment, from Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., would change the way fiscal relief funds would be distributed among states. The economic recovery provisions from the Finance Committee will be combined with the Appropriations Committee legislation for consideration by the full Senate.
“Americans need good-paying jobs, they need a little more money in their pockets, and they need some evidence that there’s light at the end of this economic crisis,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (pictured), D-Mont., in a statement. “The provisions the Finance Committee approved tonight will jump-start jobs that produce green energy, promote information technology, and build back our highways and our schools.”
Other bipartisan amendments added to the legislation before Tuesday’s markup of the bill include tax credits for broadband technology investment in rural and underserved areas; greater availability of renewable energy investment tax credits; a doubling of the number of vehicles eligible for the plug-in electric credit; and greater ability for businesses to write off recent losses, to free up cash for payroll and investments.
The House is expected to vote on its version of the stimulus bill on Wednesday, but support from House Republicans remains in doubt. President Barack Obama spent Tuesday in meetings with Republicans from both the House and Senate listening to their ideas about the makeup of the stimulus package. They are generally pushing for a greater share of tax cuts in the overall package.