Congress Approves $42,000 Tax Cut for Millionaires - Middle Income Households to Receive an Average Cut of $20
On May 10, the House of Representatives approved a $70 billion tax cut bill on a vote of 244 to 185. The next day, the Senate agreed to the measure on a party-line vote of 54 to 44, and President Bush has said he will sign the bill into law. The centerpiece of the tax package is an extension of the tax reductions on investment income resulting from capital gains and dividends. The measure [H.R. 4297] also contains a one-year patch to the alternative minimum tax (AMT). According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center of the Brookings Institute, the tax package will provide an average tax cut of nearly $42,000 to households with incomes of over $1 million a year, while giving middle-class families an average tax cut of just $20 dollars. Speaking on the Floor of the House, Rep. Levin blasted the measure: "This tax bill has caviar for the very wealthy and mostly crumbs for America?s working families." For more information on how much tax relief people like you can expect, click here.
Democrats Fight for Military Families During Defense Debate
On May 11, the House debated the Defense Authorization Act [H.R. 5122] which provides nearly $513 billion for defense programs and military personnel in 2007. Lawmakers generally agreed on the broad outlines of the defense bill, and the House approved the measure on a bipartisan vote of 396 to 31. Controversy erupted on the House Floor, however, when the Republican Leadership blocked Representative Skelton of Missouri from offering an amendment that would reject President Bush's proposed increase in pharmacy co-payments for military families. Representative Skelton is the Ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. Appealing to his House colleagues to allow him to offer his amendment, Rep. Skelton said, "Rather than charging additional money to these young troops should they have a sick child or a sick spouse, let us reduce it back to where it was. That is not difficult. In the process say, hey, thank you for the job you are doing rather than let us stick you for a few more dollars to pay to the drug companies.... That is not the way we want to treat these young folks. Let us do all we can to help them. And this is one way. Let us at least vote on it."
House Votes 408 to 3 to Protect Military Funerals
On May 9, the House overwhelmingly voted to adopt H.R. 5037, the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act, which would protect military families from having their loved one's funeral interrupted by protests. Rep. Levin, who was one of the cosponsors of the bill, said, "Military funerals are for honoring those who have given their lives for their country. They are not a platform for hate groups. Today the House stands with our fallen soldiers and their families." For more information, click here.
Lawmakers Call for Expansion of Ethanol and Biofuels
On May 11, fifty-one Members of the House, including Rep. Levin, wrote to the Chairman of the influential Energy and Water Development Subcommittee to urge increased federal funding for the Biomass and Biorefinery Systems Research and Development Act. This program develops technology for conversion of biomass (material from plants and trees) to fuels, chemicals, materials and power to help reduce U.S. demand for oil. The letter read, in part: "The nation is at a crossroads in dealing with energy security. If we are to end the trend of unsustainable dependence on imported oil and the resulting massive transfer of our nation's wealth to unstable regimes, we must act decisively to diversify our transportation fuel system. We believe an important and cost-effective part of the near-term solution is significant expansion of ethanol and biofuels production." To read the entire letter, click here.
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