Tax Extenders Back to Rules Committee

Posted September 25, 2008 at 3:49pm

House leaders canceled a vote on tax-extenders legislation and sent the bill back to the Rules Committee on Thursday after a technical error resulted in the bill’s estimates being off by $100 million.

Moments after lawmakers voted on the bill, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) requested that the vote be vacated because of a discrepancy between the version of the bill given to Republicans and the version at the Speaker’s desk.

Hoyer said he gave notice to the minority about the need to send the bill back to the committee. Hoyer said Rules Committee member Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.) “feels very badly” about the error and that, “in fairness,” the bill should be sent back to Rules for a do-over.

Rules ranking member David Dreier (R-Calif.) noted that there was also a disparity between the online version of the bill and the version that was submitted to the committee.

There has been “quite a bit of confusion around this,” said Dreier, who criticized Democratic leaders for trying to cram through too many bills at the end of the session. “Moving rapidly like this does create the potential for problems. There may be a little more to this than appears right now.”

Other Republicans jumped at the opportunity to weigh in on the fast pace of activity this week increasing the likelihood of errors in bills.

A $100 million discrepancy is not “small potatoes,” Rules Committee member Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said.

Democrats “need to understand that the Republican Party is not in a rush,” Rules Committee member Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said.

Hoyer replied that he doesn’t “want to get into moving rapidly” since it was the Bush administration who came to Congress last week and demanded passage of their $700 billion bailout proposal.

“We ought to redo this, and that’s what we intend to do,” he said.

The vote on the bill and the previous question were withdrawn.

Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said it would take a couple of hours before the bill would come back up in the committee. A GOP leadership aide said Ways and Means Committee staff realized the bill was $100 million short of being compliant with pay-as-you-go budget rules when Rules was meeting on the bill.

In the time between Rules passing the bill and the House taking it up on the floor, Ways and Means staff penciled in changes on the bill to increase offsets by $100 million, the aide said.

That resulted in Rules and the floor taking up different versions. It also meant that the version of the bill that was online, which is the only copy available to Members, was incorrect.