WASHINGTON—Congressional Republicans tried but failed, by a 14-vote margin, to override President Clinton's veto of a bill to phase out the estate tax over 10 years.
The showdown in the House came on Sept. 7 but fell short by a vote of 274 to 157.
"I don't think this is a fiscally responsible bill, and I don't think this is a fair bill, and therefore I vetoed it," Mr. Clinton said Aug. 31 after killing the legislation.
Many tire dealers and retreaders support repeal of the "death tax," which kicks in at $675,000 under current law and taxes survivors up to 55 percent of the value of an estate. Still, they were disappointed that the current bill had provided only gradual relief.
However, the Clinton administration insisted the legislation benefited only the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, and that its cost in revenue—$105 billion over 10 years and $50 billion annually thereafter—was fiscally unwise.
The Clinton administration has long said it's willing to work out a compromise, but that didn't stop the House and Senate GOP from denouncing the veto.
"President Clinton has just given the back of his hand to working families who want to leave their hard-earned family farm, small business or Internet startup to their children after they die," Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said in a prepared statement.
If the House had been successful in its override motion, the Senate was poised to follow suit the following week. The House's original, 279-136 vote on the bill was enough for a override, but the 59-39 tally in the Senate was several votes short.
Before the veto override failed, Rebecca MacDicken, government affairs director for the Tire Association of North America, had said the group was "going to have to push to see if the House can override the veto, and then see what the Senate does if the House is successful."
The International Tire and Rubber Association is "very disappointed" at the veto, said Roy E. Littlefield III, ITRA government relations director.
"Clearly this will be an issue in the (presidential) campaign," he said. "This is a very onerous tax for small businesses that are successful, and our industry is made up of small businesses."