Legislation that would have permanently repealed the estate tax died in the Senate June 8 after the bill failed to garner enough votes for it to advance to debate.
The Senate voted 57-41 to block further consideration of the bill, mostly along party lines. The House of Representatives passed a similar measure in April, 2005.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) vowed to bring the estate tax repeal up for a vote again this year. “It’s unfortunate that a minority of my Senate colleagues have blocked debate on permanent repeal of this wrongheaded tax,” he said. “Getting rid of the Death Tax is just too important an issue to give up so easily.”
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and other leading advocates for repeal had hoped to offer an alternative measure that would have widened the number of estates exempt from taxation and reduced the rates paid by the wealthiest Americans.
Democrats charged that Republicans were attempting to provide a $1-trillion tax break to the wealthiest Americans at a time when many Americans are more concerned about such issues as rising gas prices and skyrocketing healthcare costs. The day before the vote, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) said, “This is exactly the kind of partisan, election- year politics that has caused so many Americans, who want their elected representatives to tackle the problems that directly affect their lives, to lose faith in the direction of their government.”
Under current law, estate taxes will be gradually phased out until 2010, when they will be completely repealed. But in 2011, the tax would be reinstated for estates worth more than $1 million.
President Bush has said he favors complete and permanent repeal of the estate tax.