Senate Votes on Tax Proposals, Including State Taxation of Internet Commerce

March 25, 2013

Just before 5:00 AM on Saturday, the U.S. Senate passed a budget for the first time in four years in a 50-49 vote. (Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) stayed at home on doctor's orders.)

The budget blueprint, opposed by all Senate Republicans and four red-state Democrats facing re-election in 2014, sets a level of $3.7 trillion in federal spending for fiscal year 2014. Over a ten year timeframe, the budget cancels $1.2 trillion in planned spending cuts, substitutes $975 billion in reduced projected spending, and raises taxes by $975 billion.

The budget vote sent Washington scrambling because of the "Vote-o-rama" that comes with it: every senator is able to propose amendments that the entire Senate will vote on. Lots of ideas have been sitting un-voted on after four years of no budgets, so 572 amendments were filed. The Senate methodically worked through them, one by one, into the wee hours, ultimately doing 43 roll call votes and a number of voice-only votes and unanimous consent approvals. Because the budget would need to be meshed with a House version to become law (which is unlikely), the amendments were considered by all to be non-binding in nature.

Among the tax-related votes included approving 79-20 the repeal of the "Obamacare" medical device tax, approving 51-48 the inclusion of dynamic scoring analysis in revenue estimates, rejecting 46-53 the repeal of the federal estate tax, and approved 80-19 a separate amendment to repeal or reduce the federal estate tax in a revenue-neutral manner.

The Senate also approved 75-24 a modified version of the Marketplace Fairness Act, a proposal to authorize states to collect sales tax on Internet and catalog transactions between their residents and out-of-state retailers. Presently, state tax authority over retail transactions extends only to retailers with a physical presence in the jurisdiction (just as one must have a physical presence in the jurisdiction to receive state services). The hotly controversial amendment has been pushed by an alliance of big-box retailers and state officials, and opposed by some Internet retailers and conservative groups.

I'm writing a piece for later this week on what's missing from the Marketplace Fairness Act, omissions that could threaten interstate commerce and economic growth unless remedied.

Here's the vote breakdown on the Internet sales tax vote (Enzi Amendment 656):

YEAs —75

Alexander (R-TN)
Baldwin (D-WI)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Burr (R-NC)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Coons (D-DE)
Corker (R-TN)
Cowan (D-MA)
Crapo (R-ID)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Enzi (R-WY)

Feinstein (D-CA)
Fischer (R-NE)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Graham (R-SC)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Hirono (D-HI)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (D-SD)
Johnson (R-WI)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Kirk (R-IL)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Manchin (D-WV)
McCain (R-AZ)
McCaskill (D-MO)

Menendez (D-NJ)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Moran (R-KS)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Portman (R-OH)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Risch (R-ID)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Thune (R-SD)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Warren (D-MA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wicker (R-MS)

NAYs —24

Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Coats (R-IN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Cruz (R-TX)
Flake (R-AZ)
Grassley (R-IA)

Hatch (R-UT)
Heller (R-NV)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Lee (R-UT)
McConnell (R-KY)
Merkley (D-OR)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Paul (R-KY)

Roberts (R-KS)
Rubio (R-FL)
Scott (R-SC)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Tester (D-MT)
Toomey (R-PA)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wyden (D-OR)

Not Voting – 1

Lautenberg (D-NJ)

Note: Blog updated to correct the medical device tax vote.

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