With Congress preparing to reconvene in early September, Senate Majority Leader William H. Frist said a vote to fully repeal the estate tax will be tops on the to-do list.
Frist, a Tennessee Republican, has not wavered publicly from statements that the either the first or second bill of the September session would be a vote on a bill to repeal the estate tax beginning in 2005 -- meaning a vote is scheduled for the week of Sept. 6.
But passage of the measure is still doubtful. Senate Finance Committee Chair Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has said that besides the fact the Senate will need to first address their response to Hurricane Katrina, the Senate is well short of the 60 votes needed for a full repeal. And while compromise proposals are progressing, Grassley has said the scope of talks has yet to be narrowed. Deals on the table include exemptions of between $4 million and $6 million and a tax rate between 15 percent to 35 percent. The lead Republican negotiator, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, has proposed a rate tied to the 15 percent capital gains tax rate and an exemption of $8 million. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation the cost of a full repeal could be as much as $300 billion.
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