ONE LAST VOTE ON TPA. The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday evening to approve fast-track trade authority, saving a key policy initiative for President Obama. The vote comes after the Senate narrowly passed a procedural bill to open debate on the legislation with exactly 60 votes — the bare minimum needed to move ahead with final passage. The Post’s own Mike DeBonis reports that the vote to begin debate on TPA will kick-off a series of votes on other trade-related issues.
“Tuesday’s vote sets up a vote on final passage of fast track sometime Wednesday. But Republican leaders have also pledged to move companion legislation supported by Democrats that would authorize hundreds of millions of dollars in job training and other assistance to workers displaced by global trade.”
UP NEXT: TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE. Senate leaders assured reporters on Tuesday that the worker aid and retraining bill Trade Adjustment Assistance will come up for a vote quickly after fast track passes. Power post reported that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told reporters he would vote for the worker retraining bill if that is what it takes to get it passed, even though he doesn’t support the program.
“We [Republicans] all think it is a dog but it’s going to pass; that’s our obligation to see that it passes,” he said.
Once the Senate votes the bill will be sent to the House where Democrats who helped block the bill last week may be forced to change their votes. Anti-trade Democrats don’t have the option of using TAA as leverage to slow fast track like they did last week. By the time TAA reaches them, likely late Thursday, their only option will be to support it or let the program they typically support die.
Neither the Senate nor the House has confirmed when the TAA votes will take place but both chambers are scheduled to be out of session Friday so that members can attend funeral services for the shooting victims in Charleston, S.C.
EDUCATION FUNDING ON THE APPROPRIATIONS CHOPPING BLOCK. The Senate Appropriations committee is poised to pass a bill that would boost Pell Grant stipends by almost $200 for the next fiscal year, but that near-term boost comes with a long-term problem, according to Inside Higher Education. The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies funding bill would boost Pell grants to to $5,915, up from $5,775.
“But it would also take a big bite ($300 million) out of the surplus funds that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will be available for the program, shuffling that money for other purposes while potentially leaving the Pell program short in future years,” they write.
THE PATENT BOX DEBATE IS COMING. Tax writers in Congress are starting to seriously consider the best tax treatment for intellectual property and top on their list is the patent box. Bloomberg reports that the patent or innovation box would include lower rates for intellectual property, like patents and copyrights, held inside of the U.S. in hopes of encouraging companies to keep their valuable technology assets in the country.
“The so-called innovation box also is attractive to lawmakers in both parties worried that companies can easily move income outside the U.S. and chase low tax rates around the world. The break could help preserve the domestic tax base threatened by tax inversions and takeovers by foreign companies, said Representative Charles Boustany, a Louisiana Republican who is working on innovation box legislation.”
The issue has also been popping up in the Senate where members of the Finance Committee are working on proposals for tax reform stemming from months of brainstorming in working groups. Those reports are expected this week.