(WASHINGTON) — Congress passed a sweeping $400 billion budget deal in the early hours of Friday morning that busts through previous spending caps and suspends the debt limit for a year.
But tucked inside the hefty document are tax provisions for special interests, including small private colleges, television and film companies, and NASCAR.
Altogether, the tax provisions in the bill would add $17.4 billion to the deficit over the next decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Small private colleges
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fought hard to include in the budget deal a tax break that will benefit a small college in his home state of Kentucky.
One of the provisions will exempt Berea College, which does not charge tuition, from having its endowments taxed.
McConnell attempted to have the provision added to the tax reform bill in December, but it was stripped out at the last minute after the Senate parliamentarian objected due to a Senate rule violation.
At the time, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont., ranking member of the Budget Committee, challenged the provision as a carve-out narrowly benefiting a school from McConnell’s state.
“After Senate Democrats’ removed Berea’s protection, I made a promise to help the students and the school,” McConnell said in a statement Friday. “In the recent Bipartisan Budget Act, Congress passed my measure to protect Berea’s students and allow the college to continue offering scholarships to more than 1,600 young people, many of whom are Kentuckians, and who have limited economic resources. I am proud to have worked with my colleagues, especially Congressman Andy Barr, to fulfill my commitment to these students.”
Kentucky Congressman Andy Barr said in a statement that the inclusion of the tax exemption was something he helped secure from House leadership.
“Today, I am proud that the House and Senate have delivered on that promise by providing a permanent fix to exempt schools such as Berea that were never intended to be subjected to this tax,” Barr said.
Berea College president Lyle Roelofs also weighed in to thank McConnell and Barr for getting the tax exemption included in the budget deal.
“We are thrilled the bill passed, not only for the direction it provides for the federal budget, but also for this relief for colleges that use their endowment to provide access to higher education,” Roelofs said.
In a statement to ABC News, Sanders slammed the just-passed budget deal, calling the tax breaks “absurd.”
“During the campaign, Donald Trump promised that he was going to ‘drain the swamp,’ but this budget deal includes billions of dollars in absurd tax breaks pushed by hundreds of lobbyists and special interest groups,” Sanders said.
“It is a disgrace that Congress cannot fund community health centers for 5 years or provide Puerto Rico with the money they need to fully rebuild their electric grid, but it can provide tax breaks to wealthy racehorse owners, nuclear power companies and NASCAR track owners,” he said.
Racehorses and NASCAR
Another provision in the bill extends depreciation for racehorses, which would allow owners to depreciate the value of their investment with a three-year write-off period, down from seven years.
Another provision allows faster write-downs for motorsports entertainment complexes, such as NASCAR tracks.
Film and television
There’s also a tax provision that will extend special expensing rules for film and television productions, a boost to Hollywood and also to live theater productions.
Other provisions included in the budget deal
Credits for some wind energy facilities, fuel cell projects, and hybrid solar lighting
Deductions for mortgage insurance premiums and debt forgiveness
Credits for railroad maintenance, mine rescue team training
Payments to rum producers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands from excise tax revenues
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