Senate finance leaders squabble over tax package proposals

The Senate’s top tax writers clashed Wednesday over who knows what when it comes to a pending tax agreement now teetering in the chamber.

The contretemps began when Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) groused to reporters that Republicans’ demands for changes to the package remain hazy, even at this late date, calling them an “amorphous smorgasbord” of proposals.

“We don’t have a list of what amendments they would like” and “we still don’t have a description of the process they would like,” Wyden said.

Moments later, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) walked by.

Told of Wyden’s complaints, he said: “They know exactly what I want.”

“They know the issues — they know them very well. There’s nothing amorphous about it.”

Responded Wyden: “If there is somewhere where there is a piece of paper with specifics, I’m very interested in seeing it.”

The back-and-forth suggests an agreement to end what’s become a protracted dispute over the legislation — which passed the House with overwhelming support in January — is not imminent. It would expand the child tax credit as well as a trio of business tax breaks, among other changes.

Democrats had once hoped to get the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk before the beginning of the tax season. Now, Wyden say he hopes they can move it by the end of filing season in April.

Crapo has publicly identified some of the changes his side wants, including dropping language that would allow people claiming the child credit to use previous year’s income to calculate the benefit.

He also said he wants to address a glitch dealing with “catch-up” retirement contributions and consider some traditional tax extenders. Many Democrats see the plan as a finished product and are reluctant to reopen negotiations, fearing new rounds of bartering could sink the package.

Many observers are now watching to see if Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will try to force the issue by attempting to bring the plan to the chamber floor. Wyden said he’s been discussing that with Schumer but declined to discuss specifics.

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