WASHINGTON - Senate action on the urban aid tax bill is in danger of being delayed until September because that chamber has become bogged down with other legislation, congressional aides and tax lobbyists said yesterday.
Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, said last night he still hopes the Senate can take up the tax bill before it adjourns tomorrow for a month-long recess. But unforeseen delays with a defense authorization bill and a Senate resolution relating to the civil war in Bosnia have made that action unlikely, the aides and lobbyists said.
"I think September" will be when the Senate votes on the tax bill, said one congressional aide. "With each passing day it's less likely" that the Senate will act this week.
Senate leaders "haven't announced it officially, but I can't imagine how they're going to fit it in," said a tax lobbyist.
For the municipal market, the most urgent provision in the bill would renew the tax exemptions for mortgage revenue bonds and small-issue industrial development bonds, and extend them through Dec. 31, 1993.
The legislation, approved last month by the Senate Finance Committee, also would create urban enterprise zones, economically distressed areas where tax incentives would be offered to businesses.
As part of that plan, the bill would create a new category of exempt-facility bond to finance zone businesses. The bonds would be bank-eligible, regardless of the size of the issuer, and 50% of each issue would be exempt from the private-activity bond volume cap.
The bill would also ease a variety of tax law bond curbs, including the arbitrage rebate requirement.
Senate leaders originally had hoped to begin debate on the tax bill a week ago, but instead brought two appropriations bills to the floor that took up most of last week. Then on Friday the Senate began debating a contentious measure to reauthorize programs under the Department of Defense.
That debate continued through yesterday. Although the Senate leadership tabled the bill to begin considering the Bosnia resolution, Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole, R-Kan., said he hopes the Senate will return to the defense bill late today.
That would leave one more day, Wednesday, for the Senate to debate and vote on the tax bill before the recess. But a tax lobbyist noted that nearly six dozen amendments are ready to be offered to the bill, and the congressional aide predicted it would be impossible to complete action on the legislation in only one day.