The Senate voted Tuesday to reject a proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont that would have created millions of infrastructure jobs and closed an “absurd” tax loophole to pay for the plan.
Fifty-two lawmakers opposed the proposal during votes on amendments to a GOP fiscal 2016 budget proposal. Forty-five supported it in the party-line vote.
The tax loopholes targeted by Sanders’ amendment let corporations and wealthy Americans shift jobs and profits overseas, often to offshore tax havens like the Cayman Islands. Nearly $100 billion is lost annually to offshore tax dodging, according to the U.S. Treasury.
Sanders, an independent and and top-ranking minority member of the Senate Budget Committee, said Democrats and Republicans agree the country needs infrastructure improvements but disagree about how to pay for it.
“Our Republican friends are not particularly interested in investments in America,” Sanders, who is considering a presidential run, said on the Senate floor. “Their idea of dealing with the deficit is to cut, cut, cut.”
Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi of Wyoming said the accusation that Republicans don’t care about infrastructure makes him “upset.” He voted against Sanders’ amendment, saying infrastructure improvements are needed but it would be wrong to prescribe how to pay for them when a different committee has jurisdiction over the issue.
“That’s not right,” he said on the Senate floor. “That’s not the way we do legislation around here.”