This vote was on a motion to end debate and allow a separate vote on whether to consider a bill aimed at encouraging companies to locate their operations in the United States rather than overseas.
Senate Democratic leaders sought to bring up for consideration a bill authored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). U.S. companies are able to claim a tax deduction for most business expenses, even if those expenses are racked up when shutting down a plant in the United States and moving operations overseas. Sen. Stabenow’s bill would prevent companies from claiming that tax break. It would also provide a new tax break for companies that “insource” jobs by closing up shop overseas and opening new facilities in America.
The Senate would have to vote on whether to bring Sen. Stabenow’s bill up for consideration. But before that vote could happen, it would need to approve a motion for “cloture.” This motion would set a time limit for the otherwise unlimited debate on whether to consider the bill.
Supporters of the motion argued that Sen. Stabenow’s bill would breathe life into the recovering economy by encouraging corporations to locate their operations in the United States. They argued that taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize the activities of companies that move jobs overseas.
“This legislation, I think, is pretty simple. It is about bringing jobs home to America,” Sen. Stabenow said. “We are going to stop writing off the costs, allowing that business to be subsidized by all of us, including the people they lay off, in order to move overseas. Instead, we are going to say no. If you move overseas, you are on your own. But if you want to come back we are happy to allow you a business deduction for those moving expenses and we will add another 20 percent toward the costs of your expenses on top of it. That is what we should be doing. That is smart tax policy. It is common sense. It is one step in a series of things we need to do in order to be able to bring jobs home and make things in America again.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who opposed the motion, argued that the tax breaks targeted by the bill were too small to have a significant effect on business decisions, noting that it was expected to raise only $14 million the next year by forbidding companies to claim a tax break for outsourcing expenses. The bill was offered as a political attack on Republicans rather than a real tax policy idea, he argued.
“On the surface, this proposal might sound reasonable. As sound bites go, the president's reelection campaign and the Senate Democratic leadership have apparently decided they can make some political hay with this proposal. But as substantive tax policy goes, this proposal is a joke,” Sen. Hatch said.
Even though the motion received 56 “yea” votes and only 42 senators voted “nay,” the motion was defeated because it was brought up under Senate rules that require 60 votes for passage. Voting “yea” were 52 Democrats and 4 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 42 Republicans. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to bring up for consideration a bill aimed at encouraging companies to locate their operations in the United States rather than overseas.