June 28,2000

Roth Statement at Marriage Tax Relief Markup

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Finance Committee met today to mark up the "Marriage Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000." Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) delivered the following opening statement:

"This morning, the Committee will consider the Marriage Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000. This bill is the centerpiece of our efforts to reduce the tax overpayment by America's working families. Not only does it reduce families' tax burden, it eliminates some of the most egregious examples of unfairness and complexity in the tax code today. And it does all these things within the context of fiscal discipline and preserving the Social Security surplus.

"Now if some members of the Committee have a feeling of 'deja vu,' it is understandable. Less than three months ago, this Committee considered and reported out S. 2346, the 'Marriage Tax Relief Act of 2000.' Except for a modification to satisfy the budget reconciliation rules, the bill that we consider today is the same as that bill.

"The fact that we are back today to mark-up marriage tax relief demonstrates our commitment to it. Our earlier attempt this year to deliver marriage tax relief to the American people was blocked on the Senate floor. The Majority Leader's offer to limit debate to marriage tax issues was rejected, and cloture votes failed.

"The American people will not be satisfied with us telling them that they'll have to wait for comprehensive marriage tax relief because we could not overcome some procedural problems. And so that is why we are using our first reconciliation bill to deliver marriage tax relief. We hope the procedural protections of budget reconciliation will enable us to get this marriage tax relief to the American people -- quickly and cleanly.

"I want to empha that we are proceeding today under the budget resolution adopted by the Congress. That resolution contains specific instructions for this Committee. It does not, for instance, give us authority to increase spending. It does, however, give us authority to report a tax cut bill. And that is what we are here to do. This is not a time to reopen the budget debate -- to argue the pros and cons of the budget resolution. Instead, it is time for us to act and to return some of the tax overpayment to American families. And while I welcome the President's recent statement that he is prepared to accept our marriage penalty package, I do not believe that it should change the focus of this mark-up.

"The American people deserve marriage tax relief. Our bill will help working families who are burdened, not only by the unfairness and complexity of a tax code that treats them one way when single and another way when married, but burdened by the costs of raising a family. This bill is fair, this bill is responsible and this bill is pro-family. It is time that we divorce the marriage penalty from the tax code once and for all.

"I hope you will all support the Chairman's mark.


"As you know, no one on this committee is more interested than I am in marking up and reporting out a medicare reform and prescription drug bill. I want to get this accomplished this year. Bipartisan co-operation will greatly facilitate our efforts. I appreciate that time is short, and that this committee must act.

"What we need to do is what the voters expect us to do. And that is to work together to achieve consensus and develop a plan that has the support of a broad number of Democrats and Republicans.

"The best way to achieve that consensus is to work together in this committee. The Finance Committee has a long and valued history of rising to the challenge of complicated and difficult issues. We should not forget who we are and why we are here and the influence this committee has when we work together.

"We are at a critical stage in our Medicare deliberations. We've completed our hearings. We've completed Members meetings.

"It is my intention to take the ideas I have received from all of you and put forward a plan that we can mark-up and report out in July. If we all work on this together, we can get it done."