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107th Congress: $1.3 Trillion Tax Cut Bill Introduced in Senate

Aired January 22, 2001 - 2:09 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A prime topic on the table today with Congressional leaders: the new president's trillion-dollar-plus tax cut.

CNN White House correspondent Major Garrett joins us about this -- Major.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Natalie.

Yes, to be exact, $1.3 trillion in tax cuts spread out over 10 years, a very big part of the Bush agenda. And he discussed that with congressional leaders -- Republican congressional leaders -- who met with him at the White House over lunch.

At that meeting, they talked about how to handle that tax cut. A key issue for legislators is do they hand it all in one big legislative package, or do they separate out some of the more popular tax cuts that Congress has already approved, such as abolishing the so-called marriage tax penalty, getting red of what is know as the estate tax. Congress did that last year; there's now consideration of maybe taking some of that Bush tax package, putting it into smaller bites, moving it through the legislative system that way. That's a decision yet ahead.

But the big numbers: $1.3 trillion dollars are still there, and that package was introduced formally today in the United States Senate by Texas Republican Phil Gramm, who summarized the reasons for the tax cut now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PHIL GRAMM (R), TEXAS: I think the good news is that we're going to begin today in pushing the president's tax cut. We do have a bipartisan base of support to begin with. With a Democrat and a Republican to co-sponsor, the bill's going to be Republican as co- sponsors, the bill's going to be refined many times. I think we will introduce it again, hopefully, in the end, with over 51 co-sponsors. But this is an important issue with the economy in the condition it's in. I think it's something we should be focused on, and I believe we're going to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP) GARRETT: Very important things to tell you about. The symbolism of having this tax cut introduced in the Senate, Natalie. First of all, the Bush team has a big priority with education. But they're drafting the education plan, sending it to Congress. A little bit different on the tax side. The Bush team wanted the tax package to be introduced by a senator in the legislative branch, making it clear to all legislators, both in the Senate and the House, that the Congress will take the lead in writing all the details of the tax package. That's number one.

Number two: Phil Gramm mentioned a Democrat had been a common co-sponsor of this tax cut -- a key things for the Bush team, they want this to begin with bipartisan support. That Democrat, Zell Miller from Georgia -- why is that important? Well, he's a Southern Democrat, as that geography would clearly indicate, and the Bush team believes that the Democrats it's going to woo over in favor of this tax cut will come from the southern part of the United States. Democrats from Louisiana, from Arkansas, other parts of the South they believe will be among the early backers when the time comes for this tax cut proposal.

Lastly, it didn't have it introduced in the House because they want the Senate to take the lead because the Senate is far more narrowly divided than the House. They know that those are going to be the toughest votes to get -- that's why they began the process there -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And Major, when are we likely to see debate on this?

GARRETT: The interesting thing here, though it is a beehive of activity here at the Bush White House, the Congress is kind of laying low right now. They don't have a formal schedule of legislative activity for a couple of weeks. They're going to move through the remaining confirmations of Bush secretaries of the various federal department, but they're really not legislating formally for the next two or three weeks.

In earnest, this debate will begin sometime in late February, beginning of March. Once all the details are submitted. Senator Gramm mentioned they're going to reintroduce it again. It will be at that time that the debate will fully be joined on Capitol Hill -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And we wish those well who have to write those details in such a package. Thanks, Major Garrett, at the White House.

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