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April 29, 2013
Durbin Says Finance Committee 'Had Ample Time' to Consider Marketplace Fairness Act

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This document originally appeared in the April 18, 2013 edition of Tax Notes Today.

Summary by Tax Analysts®

The Senate Finance Committee "has had ample time, opportunity and expression of Member interest" to consider the Marketplace Fairness Act but did not do so, Senate Democratic Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois said in an April 18 letter responding to the committee leaders' concerns regarding the use of a fast-track process to advance the bill.

April 18, 2013

Honorable Max Baucus
Chairman, Committee on Finance
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Honorable Orrin Hatch
Ranking Member, Committee on Finance
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Baucus and Hatch:

I appreciate your concern that the Majority Leader intends to move to the Marketplace Fairness Act next week, rather than wait for the Committee to report the bill to the calendar. I write to remind you that the Committee has had ample time, opportunity and expression of Member interest to consider the bill and has chosen not to do so.

The earliest versions of the legislation were introduced in 2001 and have been introduced and referred to the Finance Committee in each Congress, except the 111th. I am only aware of one Subcommittee hearing in 2006 on this issue until the 11th Congress, when it was mentioned as part of a hearing you held on state and local tax initiatives.

In June of 2012, as the bill introduced in the 112th Congress gained cosponsors and broad support, Senator Enzi and I led a letter signed by 16 Senators to you and Senator Hatch requesting Finance Committee action to move the bill. I am not aware of any acknowledgement from your Committee of receiving the letter or an intention to consider the bill.

In July of 2012, Sen. Enzi and I filed an amendment to the Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act but did not offer the amendment. In December of 2012, I filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act during floor consideration that would have advanced Marketplace Fairness. You objected, on jurisdictional grounds, when I tried to offer the amendment. During our discussion, you assured me that Finance would consider it early in 2013. There has been no Committee activity on Marketplace Fairness since that conversation five months ago.

In February of this year, Senator Enzi and I again led a letter signed by 16 Senators to you and Senator Hatch asking that the Finance Committee consider the newly introduced Marketplace Fairness Act. I am not aware of any acknowledgement of this request or of any response from the Committee.

In March of this year, when Senator Enzi offered an amendment to the Budget Resolution during floor consideration, you again protested that the legislation should go through your Committee. In response, Senator Alexander asked whether you could specify a timeframe during which the Committee could consider the legislation and you did not.

Given the long history of this legislation, the several opportunities the Committee has been given to move the legislation, and your stated opposition to the legislation moving toward enactment, the Leader, the other bill sponsors and I concluded that a Rule XIV process was the most viable approach to helping advance the bill during the 113th Congress.

I would much prefer to work with you during Floor consideration of the Marketplace Fairness Act and welcome your participation in the process moving forward.


                Richard J. Durbin
Finance Committee

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