A small Michigan college took center stage on the Senate floor for a hot moment in the debate that led up to the passing of the Senate GOP plan to revamp America's tax code.
Democrats zeroed in on an amendment that would have handed a special tax break to conservative Hillsdale College, which does not accept any federal funds.
The provision was written by Pennsylvanian Republican Senator Pat Toomey. It exempted any school that doesn't accept federal funding from a 1.4 percent tax on investment income from university endowments.
Here's Senator Toomey responding to queries from Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden:
Now, over to Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill:
And, in the end, the so-called Hillsdale Carve-Out was stripped from the tax bill. To help us understand the events that led to this outcome, reporter Adam Harris joined Stateside today. He wrote a piece for The Chronicle of Higher Education titled, "The Brief Life and Undignified Death of the 'Hillsdale Carve-Out.'"
Read Harris' piece here, listen to Stateside's full conversation above, or read highlights from the beginning of the conversation below.
On whether Senator Toomey's provision was "a very limited provision written for a very special person," as Senator McCaskill said
“Well, the argument from Senator Toomey’s office, as you heard, was essentially that any college that met these requirements, which was not accepting Title IV funds, would be eligible for this special exemption. Now, there are no other colleges that would have reached the threshold at that point. Later in the debate, you know, Senate Republicans amended the threshold for this excise tax on college endowments to schools that had $500,000 in endowment per student. So, ultimately, Hillsdale College wouldn’t even have reached that threshold. So, at a certain point, it became a moot point."
On why this small provision became a big fighting point for Democrats
“Senator Chuck Schumer actually argued that it was kind of exemplar of the entire debate – that all of this was kind of happening in secret and they were finding out at the last minute, and it seemed to only affect a very small percentage of people. Essentially, Senate Democrats were arguing that this was indicative of a large issue with the entire tax bill.”
Listen to the full conversation above.