(Bloomberg) The U.S. House of Representatives rejected an $11 billion bill that would have provided tax incentives for charitable donations of food, money from retirement accounts and land-development rights.
The House’s 275-149 vote fell short of the two-thirds margin needed to pass it under an expedited procedure. That’s the same threshold that would have been needed to overcome a threatened veto from President Barack Obama.
All House Republicans voted for the bill. Democrats split, with 47 in favor and 149 against, leaving the measure eight votes shy of passage.
The vote probably ends any chance of the bill’s success this year, a defeat for the charities that had rallied for it in the final days of the congressional session. Republicans could try again next year when they have a wider House margin, control of the Senate and more time.
“This action is especially troubling as we enter the holiday season, when our country comes together around the ideal of charity that unites us all,” Vikki Spruill, the president and chief executive officer of the Council on Foundations, said in a statement.
The three charitable-contribution breaks are among a larger group of tax breaks that are renewed by Congress every year or two, and expired most recently at the end of 2013.
A separate bill, H.R. 5771, would restore all the tax incentives for 2014 only. The House has passed that measure, which is awaiting a Senate vote.
The bill, H.R. 5806, would renew only the three charitable breaks with no expiration date.
“If you’re hungry, you can’t wait,” Representative Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said on the House floor Wednesday. “Let’s do this now.”
Camp said after the vote that the outcome was “unfortunate” and cited lobbying by Democrats against the bill.
Charitable groups have been pressing the administration and Congress to back the breaks, contending that renewing them periodically doesn’t give taxpayers sufficient time to plan their donations.
The White House threatened a veto because the bill didn’t contain budgetary offsets and would set a precedent for extensions of other temporary policies.
That’s the issue, not the policies in question, said Representative Sander Levin, a Michigan Democrat who accused the bill’s supporters of “trying to score points against the president.”
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