Remember that Tax Extenders Bill that seemed to be moving ahead? Consider it stalled.
Amid a flurry of proposed amendments to the bill, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) moved to consider a cloture motion on Amendment No. 3060 to H.R. 3474. H.R. 3474 is the Hire More Heroes Act, originally intended “[t]o amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow employers to exempt employees with health coverage under TRICARE or the Veterans Administration from being taken into account for purposes of the employer mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” The amendment was offered “in the nature of a substitute” which means that it would strike out the entire text of the bill and replace it with a different text.
Cloture is a procedure by which the Senate can put an end to debate without actually voting a matter down. Procedurally, what happened is this: a motion was made to table Amendment No. 3060. By rule, no debate is allowed on a cloture motion. A vote in favor of cloture is a vote to end debate on the original matter and go to a vote (in this case, the tax extenders bill) while a vote against is a vote to keep debating.
The vote was 53-40 in favor but since the Senate needed 60 votes, by rule, the measure will remain open to debate and will not move to a vote. Those who voted did so along party lines with Sen. Reid breaking ranks to vote no, a move for the sake of procedure, and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) voting yes (you can see the roll call here).
Why the divide? Republicans in the Senate accused Sen. Reid of not wanting to broker a deal on the bill, including adding provisions that would eliminate the wind production credit and repeal the ObamaCare medical device tax. Sen. Reid has suggested that the debates were simply a political tactic and that any amendments to the bill could be offered later as an amendment package.
The result? Both sides are crying foul while the future of the bill remains uncertain. The measure could come up for debate in the near future (that’s why Sen. Reid voted no, in order to do so) but chatter suggests that we won’t hear about it again until after the elections.