Georgia Congressman Sanford Bishop was among only seven House Democrats to vote Thursday to repeal the estate tax, a longtime GOP legislative priority that is unlikely to clear the upper chamber and unlikelier still to pass the president’s desk.
Republicans set up the repeal vote, which passed largely along partisan lines, to coincide with the week’s tax filing deadline. (Three Republicans—none from Georgia, of course—broke rank and voted the proposal down.) It was the first time in a decade that the full House has moved to the trash the nearly hundred-year-old tax.
Bishop was the lone Democratic cosponsor of the legislation, through he was joined a half-dozen other Georgians: GOP Reps. Lynn Westmoreland, Doug Collins, Buddy Carter, Rick Allen, Jody Hice, and Austin Scott.
Democratic leadership criticized the proposal as a multi-billion dollar tax break for the country’s wealthiest families, while Republicans countered that the tax was more likely to impact family farms and small businesses rather than the ultra-rich.
Only those individuals with estates greater than $5.43 million, or couples whose combined estate tops $10.86 million, must pay the tax when passing assets after a death. According to a joint House-Senate taxation committee, it will hit about 5,400 estates—or 0.2 percent of the projected 2.6 million deaths—this year. That same panel projected that the tax’s repeal would drop government revenue by about $269 billion over a decade.
A Bishop aide did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon, but as recent as last month the Georgia Democrat was publicly boostering a repeal.
You’ll be forgiven for thinking he sounds like a Republican here: “I have heard from farmers, funeral home owners, newspaper publishers, radio station owners, and garment manufacturers about the need for estate tax relief,” he said in a March press release. “I believe the estate tax is politically misguided, morally unjustified and downright un-American.”