While Democrats and one Republican senator lost the battle against a tax bill that passed in the wee hours of Saturday morning, some were proclaiming victory over killing an amendment that appeared to have a sole beneficiary: a college with ties to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
In a tweet in the early hours of Saturday, Democrat Jeff Merkley said the Senate passed his amendment that would nix a provision that would have exempted colleges that don’t accept federal funding from an excise tax on endowments.
Democrats surmised that Hillsdale College, a conservative liberal arts university in Michigan whose well-known alumni include DeVos’s brother and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, was the only college that had an endowment large enough to face that excise tax, thus the only beneficiary of the provision.
Merkley called the Senate move to strike it down “the only bright spot in an infuriating night.”
The Senate just passed my amendment keeping Devos-funded Hillsdale College from getting a special break in the #TaxScamBill. The only bright spot in an otherwise infuriating night.
— Jeff Merkley (@JeffMerkley) December 2, 2017
UPDATE 1:32 am: Several Republicans side with Democrats to nix a “Hillsdale Handout” amendment offered by Sen Pat Toomey that would have exempted likely only Hillsdale College from paying an excise tax. https://t.co/4CL75hFnbS
— Amanda Becker (@AmandaBecker) December 2, 2017
Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who introduced the provision, argued that it would benefit any university. But Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon told lawmakers that he “couldn’t find anybody else in America who benefits from this particular provision,” according to a report in the Guardian.
When we shined a spotlight on the terrible DeVos Tax Earmark, a few in the GOP were embarrassed enough to take it out, which is exactly why GOP is rushing a handwritten bill through in the middle of the night. There’s plenty in there just as bad or worse that might now become law
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) December 2, 2017