Today, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan jobs package that featured two key items of Senator Scott Brown's (R-MA) Bay State Jobs Agenda. The repeal of the 3 percent withholding mandate, which prevents a tax on small businesses and was originally introduced by Senator Brown, passed 95-0. Included in the bill was a veterans jobs amendment, cosponsored by Senator Brown, which featured a tax credit for businesses that hire unemployed veterans--legislation long championed by the Senator.
"Finally, the American people won and partisanship lost. This bipartisan jobs bill protects small businesses from a stealth tax and saves state and local budgets from an unfunded mandate. This bill also gives a much needed boost to unemployed veterans and improves assistance for the transition from military to civilian life--and it's fitting that these items passed in time to honor our military on Veterans Day," said Senator Brown. "I hope today's victory is a sign of things to come. In this case at least, it seems the Senate has cracked the code for overcoming the gridlock. President Obama, Senate leaders and the American people have proof that sincere, bipartisan jobs legislation can be passed if negotiated in good faith. Congress must seize this momentum and work in a bipartisan way to pass more jobs legislation."
The underlying bill, the 3 percent withholding repeal, was originally introduced as the Withholding Tax Relief Act of 2011 and championed by Senator Brown. The legislation repeals, in section 3402(t) of the Internal Revenue Code, the 3 percent contracting withholding law which mandates that federal, state, and local governments withhold 3 percent of nearly all contract payments made to private companies, as well as Medicare payments, farm payments, and certain grants. The provision has generated huge opposition from industry groups and some local governments, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) considers it an unfunded mandate on local governments. This 3 percent stealth tax is scheduled to hit companies across the country at the beginning of 2013.
The veterans jobs amendment will expand the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to incentivize the hiring of unemployed veterans, which closely mirrors the Hire A Hero Act introduced by Senator Brown. The amendment also contains elements of the Hiring Heroes Act of 2011, of which Senator Brown was the original Republican cosponsor.
In January, Senator Brown introduced the bipartisan Hire A Hero Act and the bipartisan Withholding Tax Relief Act of 2011 as part of a package of six bills intended to boost job growth in the Bay State. After nine months of steady advocacy from Senator Brown and dozens of discussions with veterans groups and small businesses, these policies won bipartisan support and overcame the partisan gridlock to pass the Senate.