WASHINGTON -- Republican congressional leaders are piecing together end-of-session legislation providing about $260 billion in tax relief over the next decade, including expanded individual retirement accounts and anti-poverty tax incentives for poor communities.
"We're going to have a tax package the president will sign," Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Thursday. "We're trying to hold it to the things that have broad bipartisan support."
Lott and House Speaker Dennis Hastert said the tax package would be one of the last major pieces of legislation to be acted upon before Congress adjourns, possibly next week.
"By the time we leave this place, we will have cut taxes for the American people," said Hastert, R-Ill.
In addition, Lott told reporters that the proposed $1 hourly increase in the $5.15-an-hour minimum wage over two years sought by President Clinton and congressional Democrats would advance only if linked to tax breaks intended to offset the higher labor costs imposed on small businesses.
"We won't have minimum wage unless small business tax relief is attached to it," Lott said.
During this two-year session of Congress, Clinton has vetoed more than $1 trillion in GOP tax cuts, including a bill repealing estate taxes and a measure reducing the "marriage penalty" on two-income couples. But prospects for this final bill, which Lott estimated at $260 billion over 10 years, are much brighter.
The Clinton administration has expressed reservations about some of these measures, but none has drawn an outright veto threat. Hastert said he had discussions with Clinton by telephone on Wednesday to begin working out a final deal.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.