Goodlatte online sales tax bill introduction seen aimed at influencing debate this Congress
It’s “going to be so much better to have [OSSA] front and center” as a workable online sales tax compromise going into the fall, particularly because of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s, R-Ky., promise to allow Senate consideration of S-698 as part of a deal to prevent a floor fight on the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (see 1602100061), DelBianco said. Introduction now likely “changes the calculus” in the push for the Senate to fulfill McConnell’s promise on S-698 consideration, said R Street Institute Executive Director Andrew Moylan. “Introduction of [OSSA] signals that [HR-2775 and S-698] are dead on arrival on the House side” at this point in the legislative calendar, Moylan said. “There’s an element of gamesmanship between the House and Senate chambers and I wouldn’t put it past supporters” of S-698 to push even harder for the Senate to take up the bill before the end of the 114th Congress, he said.
House Judiciary is “awaiting feedback from the relevant stakeholders before we announce any further steps” on OSSA, an aide told us. Goodlatte’s introduction of the draft OSSA text doesn’t appear to be “just a messaging piece” despite the rapidly closing legislative window, Moylan told us. “My sense is that [Goodlatte] intends this to be a live effort” aimed at passing a final version of the bill this year, Moylan said: Goodlatte’s staffers have “been very thoughtful about it” over the course of their work on the bill and “they appear to fully intend this to be something that they actually make something of.” Many factors could still scuttle progress on OSSA this year but Goodlatte’s timing “is appropriate to put this at the front of the line” this year, DelBianco said.
Moylan will be closely following the reactions of existing supporters and opponents of S-698 to the draft OSSA text in the coming weeks. The language doesn’t contain “everything [S-698’s supporters] wanted” in a compromise but “it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t address some of their concerns and does it in a way that’s dramatically preferable” to HR-2775 or S-698, Moylan said. It will also be important to gauge S-698 opponents’ opinions on the OSSA draft’s language, which is something R Street itself is “still trying to figure out,” he said: Both sides’ opinions “will indicate whether or not [OSSA] is something upon which there can be a consensus. In the absence of a consensus, we’re back where we were before” Goodlatte introduced it.