Senators supporting the repeal of estate taxes, currently scheduled to be fully reinstated in 2011 after a 10-year phase-out period, were six votes short of their goal when the measure came to a vote on Wednesday, June 12. Nine Democrats added their support to the bill, while two Republicans voted against it.
Representative Jennifer Dunn (R-WA) sponsored the estate tax repeal bill, HR 8, known as the Death Tax Elimination Act. The bill emanated from provisions in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, which established the 10-year timetable for phase-out and reinstatement of the federal estate tax.
Legislators who favor the elimination of the estate tax refer to the tax as "immoral," and President Bush has expressed his support for the repeal of the tax. "It is wrong that, as a result of a quirk in the law, millions of Americans will be subject to the death tax beginning at the end of the decade," President Bush said in a written statement. "The Congress must fix this unfair tax and provide families with certainty so they can plan for the future."
Opponents see the bill as taking money from the federal government to the tune of $750 billion in the decade beginning in 2011. "Strip it all away, this is a tax relief for billionaires when we have a very big deficit and we have other priorities," said Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND).