A picture of Senator Patrick J. Leahy
Patrick L.
Democrat VT

About Sen. Patrick
  • Legislative Session

    by Senator Patrick J. Leahy

    Posted on 2014-12-16

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    LEAHY. Mr. President, today, the Senate is considering the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014, a House-passed bill that extends a limited and narrow set of expired tax credits and deductions, and includes the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014, ABLE Act. Once again, Congress has waited until the eleventh hour to address tax credits that expired nearly a year ago. Once again, this has resulted in needless confusion for families and businesses who have been unable to plan and unable to grow, given the uncertainty of the outcome of these credits. I heard from Vermonters over the last year concerned about the expiration of these credits--and the pending expiration of dozens of more tax credits that benefit hardworking, middle-class families. Congress has a responsibility to do its part to provide certainty within the Tax Code to ensure families in Vermont and across the country have the predictability they need to make financial decisions. While I support extending these tax credits, I cannot support an effort that once again simply kicks the can down the road and leaves for the next year the unfinished business of this Congress.

    I am disappointed that, earlier this year, Republicans in the Senate squandered an opportunity to consider a more comprehensive package that would have benefited small businesses, researchers, the environment, and middle-class families. I have been deeply disappointed in the process, which has left us with a choice between bad: passing the House bill; and worse: not doing anything. This legislation revives more than 55 expired tax deductions from 2013, and while I agree these are important provisions, I cannot support this bill on principle. We cannot continue to retroactively fix problems Congress carelessly and irresponsibly creates, without addressing the same tax provisions that will expire in just a few short weeks from now, only to have the same fight next year. It is time we have a meaningful, full debate about tax reform, and how Congress can ensure that our Tax Code reflects the needs of all Americans, not just those who are the wealthiest among us.

    Included in this patch bill is the important ABLE Act, which allows those with disabilities to plan for their futures by creating tax-free savings accounts. I have strongly supported this legislation, and continue to do so. This legislation creates opportunities for individuals with disabilities to save for college or retirement or other living expenses and opens doors for families across the country. The House of Representatives held two votes last week related to taxes: one on the extenders package, and one on the ABLE Act. If the Senate were allowed to do so, I would cast my vote in strong support of the ABLE Act.

    I asked Vermonters to elect me as their representative in the Senate because I wanted carry their voices to the decision centers in Washington. I strongly believe in the best of what the Senate has been, should be, and can once again become. There are many Vermonters, and people across the country, who are counting on us to provide comprehensive, long-term solutions to our country's problems. I hope that in the new Congress we can work together instead of kicking the can down the road, yet again. We were elected to find solutions, not excuses.

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