Sen. Mitch McConnell’s latest op-ed relating to Berea College’s endowment requires a response. The Republican tax cut places an excise tax on university and college endowment investment earnings. To protect Berea, the legislation carved out an exemption for those with fewer than 500 tuition-paying students.
Two Democratic senators raised a point of order as to whether the exemption met Senate rules. This legislation was being passed using legislative reconciliation, which allows expedited passage of budgetary legislation with 51 votes.
The Byrd Rule restricts what can be included in reconciliation legislation and prohibits provisions that are viewed as “extraneous” to the budget. The Senate parliamentarian ruled the exemption would have to be stripped from the legislation.
No senator has a better knowledge of Senate rules and how to use them for partisan advantage and obstruction than McConnell. His complaints about Democrats are pure hypocrisy. Taxing universities, places of independent thought and learning, to give corporations an unneeded tax break and pay back political donors is an attack on higher education.
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The autocratic process for the legislation — no public hearings, no expert testimony, only Republican input, handwritten changes on bill pages, distribution of the bill hours before vote and final vote in early morning hours — created this issue.