WASHINGTON -- The House's main supporter of the tax exemption for mortgage revenue bonds, Rep. Barbara B. Kennelly, said yesterday there is still a chance Congress will pass legislation this year to continue that and other expiring tax provisions.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Thomas S. Foley, D-Wash., did not rule out passing such legislation before Congress adjourns next week. The fact that 75 senators have pledged to rpevent such a bill from being loaded down with extraneous amendments may have helped that cause, he said.
A similar drive is now being mounted in the House by Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y.
"I haven't given up hope," Ms. Kennelly, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in an interview. The Connecticut Democrat is the main sponsor of legislation to continue the tax exemption for mortgage revenue bonds, which is set to expire Dec. 31.
Nearly a dozen other tax breaks are set to expire on that dat, including the tax exemption for small-issue industrial development bonds and the low-income housing tax credit.
Ms. Kennelly said Democratic members of the Ways and Means panel met behind closed doors yesterday to discuss whether to extend the expiring provisions but still reached no firm conclusion.
Some panel members are still reluctant to extend the tax breaks because legislation would be needed to make up for the lost revenues, she said.
Among panel members there is also a movement, which she supports, to extend only some of the expiring provisions.
Ms. Kennelly did not say which ones might be dropped, but did say she expected mortgage revenue bonds and the low-income credit to survive any cut the committee might make. She did not comment on the possible fate of small-issue IDBs.
"We should take some of them and go with them," and leave the rest, Ms. Kennelly said.
Rep. Foley, meanwhile, who last week had all but closed the door to extending the provisions this year, took a different tack yesterday. When reporters asked whether such a bill would be considered, he said, "We'll see."
He also said one of the big stumbling blocks to bringing a bill to the floor of either house was lawmakers' tendency to try to load on their favorite amendments, "but that may be affected by the statement of the 75 senators."
Rep. Foley was referring to a letter to Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, and Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole, R-Kan., in which 75 senators pledged to fight any extraneous amendments on legislation to extend the expiring provisions. He said he would bring up the issue of the tax breaks soon with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, D-III.
"I intend to discuss it with him, but I have nothing to announce at this time," Rep. Foley said.
Rep. Rangel, a member of the Ways and Means panel, has begun circulating a letter among his colleagues in which the signers make a pledge to the House leadership similar to that made by the 75 senators. Rep. Rangel is said to be joined by two other panel members, Rep. Frank Guarini, D-N.J., and Rep. Guy Vander Jagt, R-Mich.