And so the saga of the expired tax breaks continues.
First the good news. The House overwhelmingly (367-45) passed a tax measure today that would reinstate the deductions for state sales taxes, tuition and fees and educators' out-of-pocket expenses.
Now the bad news. Once again, lawmakers just cannot help themselves. In addition to the tax provisions, the bill makes the previously mentioned (here) changes to Medicare-related fees and opens 8.3
million acres in the Gulf of
Mexico near Florida to new oil and gas drilling.
And those additions are not sitting well with some Senators, who also must approve the bill before it can go to Dubya for his signature.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) says he will try to kill the bill because of its $40 billion, five-year price tag.
"It has in it a large amount of items which have nothing to do with extending taxes and have a lot to do with personal interests of various groups around this country who have the capacity to get things in bills," Gregg said in a Senate speech.
"You must have to ask yourself how we as a party got to this point when we have a leadership that is going to ram down our throats of our party the biggest budget buster in the history of this Congress, under Republican leadership."
Representatives and Senators had hoped to adjourn today, but it looks like the start of their holiday season is going to be held hostage a little bit longer to pork barrel politics.