WASHINGTON - Proponents of mortgage revenue bonds and small-issue industrial development bonds made a final push last week to remind tax conferees that there is strong support in both houses of Congress for making authority to issue those bonds permanent.
House and Senate tax lawmakers are scheduled to begin substantive negotiations today to hammer out the final version of President Clinton's budget and tax package. The House version includes provisions to make the tax exemption for mortgage bonds and IDBs permanent. The Senate bill would extend the exemptions only through June 30, 1994.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn. and 71 Senate colleagues sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Daniel P. Moynihan, D-N.Y., on Thursday urging him to push for permanent extensions of the two tax breaks, which expired June 30, 1992.
Although the Senate approved only a temporary extension of the mortgage bond exemption, Lieberman said in his letter that most senators believe that "expiration next June will effectively assure another jarring and lengthy disruption of the MRB program."
Lieberman noted that 490 out of the combined 535 members of the House and Senate have signed on in support of legislation introduced in both houses this year to make the mortgage bond exemption permanent. That makes the exemption "the most heavily co-sponsored legislation of either house," Lieberman said in the letter.
In the House, meanwhile, a majority of Democrats signed a letter on mortgage bonds sent to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill. The letter, developed by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Rep. David E. Price, D-N.C., urges Rostenkowski to insist on a permanent extension for mortgage bonds.
The vote on final passage for the tax bill is expected to be close in both the House and Senate. Mortgage bond supporters are hoping the letters will persuade the conferees that including a permanent extension for the mortgage bond exemption may attract the votes of lawmakers who support the exemption but who may be wavering on the bill for other reasons, said John T. McEvoy, the executive director of the National Council of State Housing Agencies.
IDB supporters have also been pushing conferees for a permanent exemption.
Said Guy Land, a lobbyist for the Council of Development Finance Agencies: "We have been making an aggressive effort through our members in states who have conferees, to ensure those conferees are reminded of the critical importance of a long-term extension of the IDB program."
Those states include Rostenkowski's home state of Illinois, Moynihan's home state of New York, and Maine, the home state of Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine. Mitchell is the Senate majority leader and a tax conferee.