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(Senate - April 22, 2013)

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[Pages S2827-S2831]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                        MARKETPLACE FAIRNESS ACT

  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, the Senate is on course to consider 
profoundly misguided legislation. This proposal is known as the 
Marketplace Fairness Act, but it is anything but fair. The Marketplace 
Fairness Act is unprecedented in its reach to discriminate against the 
Internet, employers, and States with modest or no sales taxes.
  As the Internet economy has evolved through innovation, and as it 
expanded because of the value the innovation enabled, traditional 
brick-and-mortar businesses are seeking to compete through legislation. 
Big retailers, effectively seeking a legislative bailout, have allied 
themselves with State governments that see the Marketplace Fairness Act 
as an opportunity to obtain new tax revenue without enduring the 
political consequence of enforcing their own tax laws in their own 
jurisdictions. It is always easier to put the burden of collecting 
taxes on the people who can't vote for you; isn't that right, Mr. 
  The Marketplace Fairness Act is going to hobble the Internet economy 
and constrain online commerce. It is, in my view, a recipe for economic 
stagnation. It would rein in the Internet economy which has helped lead 
our economy out of the recession that began in 2008. What this proposal 
does is give each State the ability to require online businesses 
outside their States to enforce their tax laws. It enables the State of 
Indiana or the State of South Dakota to require online businesses 
located in New Hampshire to collect sales taxes on their behalf. Let me 
repeat that. The Marketplace Fairness Act could require the businesses 
of New Hampshire, a State that has determined not to have a sales tax, 
to collect sales taxes for goods or services provided to consumers in 
Indiana or South Dakota and then send money to those States.
  This proposal, in effect, unleashes all the Nation's tax collectors 
on small Internet businesses--Internet entrepreneurs who have neither 
the ability to enforce the terms of the Marketplace Fairness Act nor 
the political influence in this city to be able to shape

[[Page S2828]]

the legislation. The Marketplace Fairness Act takes the Internet down a 
dangerous path because its passage would endorse the notion that 
Internet entities should be required to enforce laws outside their home 
  Foreign countries have long pressed the notion the Internet should be 
ceded to their control. Let me repeat that. This has been an objective 
of a whole number of our global competitors over the years--trying to, 
in effect, get control over the Internet. There is no difference in New 
York telling Oregon Internet firms to enforce New York laws than China 
telling American firms to enforce China's censorship practice. As it is 
already, many countries are seeking to actually put the United Nations 
in charge as the Internet's regulator-in-chief, and this bill, to a 
great extent, endorses that world view.
  Today the Senate is being asked to consider schemes to allow States 
and localities to essentially nationalize their taxes, but tomorrow the 
Senate may be asked to consider similar schemes to enforce laws and 
regulations about content, for example, and other issues that are so 
important to the powerful and the well connected.
  The precedent the Marketplace Fairness Act establishes takes the 
Internet, the American economy, and our society down a dark path. It is 
a path toward a future where governments can impose their values and 
their regulatory regimes on Internet businesses anywhere. It is a 
future in which the sovereignty of the country and the sovereignty of 
our States is significantly eroded.
  Beyond these issues, the proponents of the legislation are spawning 
myths about the bill that aren't true. One myth is the Marketplace 
Fairness Act levels the playing field. They are going to argue the 
Marketplace Fairness Act levels the playing field between brick-and-
mortar firms and Internet companies for purposes of collecting and 
remitting sales taxes. But the facts are the facts, and they indicate 
  Furthermore, even if Best Buy knows the consumer resides in 
Washington, DC, because Best Buy provides the consumer with a credit 
card or a rewards card that is associated with a Washington, DC, 
address, Best Buy is still allowed to assume the television 
purchased will be consumed in Virginia. The Marketplace Fairness Act, 
in my view, is a targeted strike against the Internet and a targeted 
strike against the digital economy.

  Another myth being put forward is the myth the MFA isn't about new 
taxes; that the proposal is about enforcing taxes already owed. The 
fact is the taxes that would be collected as a result of the 
Marketplace Fairness Act's passage have generally not been collected. 
So these are going to be regarded as new taxes. This is money that is 
going to come out of the pockets of American families that has not come 
out of their pockets before.
  Collecting sales and use taxes for goods or services acquired in 
another State has long been a low priority for State and local 
governments. Because these taxes go uncollected and unenforced, the 
establishment of an unprecedented regime to collect them for the first 
time is going to require American consumers to pay more sales taxes and 
pay more use taxes.
  Furthermore, the creation of this new trans-State enforcement scheme 
creates significant new incentives for States to establish new sales 
taxes and new use taxes and also to increase the tax rates that exist 
now for these particular items.
  Ultimately, the Marketplace Fairness Act is going to require 
consumers to pay an additional $22 billion in sales taxes they have 
never had to pay before. In fact, unless the United States pursues the 
types of international arrangements that govern the Internet economy--
the types of arrangements sought by China and a host of other States--
foreign Internet retailers will only continue to have the competitive 
advantage the Marketplace Fairness Act would artificially provide them. 
That is not what the American economy needs. That is not what is going 
to promote online innovation and value.
  I hope my colleagues will oppose this Marketplace Fairness Act. It is 
premature. It is, more than anything else, coercive. It is coercive.
  We are going to hear about how simple this is. Back when we started 
writing the first bills about technology and the Internet, we said the 
key principle is do no harm. This is going to do harm. Just this past 
weekend, I was in southern Oregon, where we have many small retailers. 
We have one in Grants Pass, OR--Fire Mountain Gems. It is an exciting 
new business online, but it is up against very tough international 
competition. What I fear is that unless there is a thoughtful effort 
along the lines of what Chairman Baucus has tried to do in the Finance 
Committee to think this through, this bill, in a global economy, will 
give foreign retailers a significant leg up.
  We will have people on the northern border of the United States or 
the southern border of the United States who will say: I want to do 
business in the United States. I am a patriotic American, but there are 
more than 8,000 taxing jurisdictions in America. If we force our 
businesses, our online retailers, such as the one I represent in 
southern Oregon, to spend their time and their money trying to comply 
with scores and scores of tax regimes that are thousands of miles away, 
it is going to be very tough for them to compete with foreign 
  This violates the basic principle we began decades ago with respect 
to technology; that is, do no harm. Do no harm to the cause of 
innovation, ensure we have fairness--bricks and clicks together--which 
is the future of the American economy.
  This bill violates that basic principle of technology policy. It will 
do harm.
  I urge my colleagues to oppose it and its premature consideration by 
the full Senate.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.
  Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, I rise today to urge the Senate not to 
move forward on the Marketplace Fairness Act.
  This bill forces small businesses across the country to spend time 
and resources they should be using to create jobs, jumping through new 
bureaucratic hoops. In Montana it forces our small businesses to play 
tax collector for other States, with absolutely no benefit to them. 
Instead of slapping more redtape on our small businesses, we need to be 
supporting their work to create jobs and get our economy going.
  Let me be very clear. This bill is bad for business and bad for jobs. 
This bill is not ready for debate on the Senate floor. It has not been 
completely thought through and is full of unintended consequences that 
could seriously harm America's small businesses.
  Supporters of the Marketplace Fairness Act claim this bill would 
level the playing field between Main Street businesses and out-of-State 
businesses by forcing both to collect sales taxes from customers. The 
bill's sponsors claim this is fair. The reality, however, is this 
legislation is anything but fair to America's small businesses. This 
legislation doesn't help businesses expand and grow and hire more 
employees. Instead, it forces small businesses to hire expensive 
lawyers and accountants to deal with the burdensome paperwork and added 
complexity of tax rules and filings across multiple States.
  This is a big-box bill. This is not a downtown bill. Our vanishing 
downtowns are in crisis. We must find ways to revitalize Main Streets 
across America by supporting our small retailers. In doing so, we 
foster economic growth and job creation in our communities.
  Let me read just one of the hundreds of letters I have received from 
small business owners in Montana and across America who are opposed to 
this legislation:

       Dear Senator Baucus, at a time when the economy is just 
     recovering, the pending Internet sales tax legislation will 
     cost small business jobs, reduce consumer demand, [and] 
     reduce e-commerce innovation.
       As you know, is the largest private 
     employer in Wheatland County. . . . We expect this 
     legislation to cost 13-20 jobs in one of the poorest counties 
     in the United States, where a job means everything. Rather 
     than rewarding the thousands of small businesses for their 
     innovation and our hard work, Congress will be taxing the job 
     engine of the economy and reducing jobs across the nation.
       Sincerely, Lance Trebesch.

  There are mom-and-pop businesses such as Mr. Trebesch's across the 
country asking for our help. Unfortunately, this bill does not provide 
that help. It will not solve the challenges facing Main Street. 
Instead, the Marketplace Fairness Act only creates new challenges that 
will put many of America's small businesses at a disadvantage.

[[Page S2829]]

  This bill imposes additional burdens and compliance demands on 
businesses already weighed down by Federal and State tax systems that 
are too complex, too time consuming, and too costly to comply with.
  I encourage my colleagues to look at this bill very closely. It 
requires America's businesses to track thousands of different tax codes 
in 7,500 different jurisdictions if they do online business out of 
State. It will force small businesses to hire expensive accountants and 
implement costly systems to deal with the complexity of collecting 
sales tax on purchases made in other States.
  And who is policing all of this? The bill, as written, has no audit 
or enforcement protection. As a result, it opens small businesses to 
aggressive out-of-State tax collectors. States will be taxing 
businesses beyond their borders. This bill helps States target those 
businesses that are truly operating out of State and subjects them to 
the same broken, confusing State sales tax systems that are currently 
in place. Tell me, how does this grow our economy and how does this 
create jobs? The promise of simplification in the Marketplace Fairness 
Act is a ruse.
  First of all, they provide no simplification to the businesses that 
already collect sales taxes in multiple jurisdictions. Those businesses 
are not even considered in this bill. They are left out.
  Second, the bill offers no real simplification for the businesses 
that will now be required to collect sales taxes. It only adds 
complexity, with no resources for guidance.
  This bill does not streamline the 7,500 different tax rates. It does 
not require the States to agree on definitions of taxable and exempted 
products. Think about that for a moment. Each State and many cities and 
municipalities have different definitions of what is taxable and what 
products are exempt. They are all different.
  It does not establish standard requirements for electronic filing. 
Think of that for a moment, no standard requirements for electronic 
filing. It does not establish a central location for registration or 
filing. It does not offer uniform forms or paperwork. The list goes on 
and on. These are just a few of the problems this bill is going to 
  Even more concerning, this bill does not establish one audit system 
for all States. Rather, businesses will be exposed to audit by all 50 
States. So any State can decide at any time it wants to audit a 
business beyond its borders.
  This bill does not even establish any rules or procedures for dispute 
resolution. Got a problem with the tax collector in a State across the 
country? Good luck. You will have to work it out with that State's 
court system.
  The bill's sponsors tell us not to worry. They say that computer 
software can calculate the sales taxes owed, collect the money due, and 
file the reports with the States by linking to the seller's Web site. 
Is offering a business the chance to pay someone else to calculate 
their taxes for them what passes for simplification? And those software 
providers cannot protect the business from exposure to audit, 
collection, and enforcement by 50 different States.
  Still worried? Well, the bill's sponsors tell us they will exempt 
businesses that have $1 million or less in sales to other States where 
sales taxes are not being currently collected. Why this threshold?
  Studies show that the burden of sales taxes on the very smallest is 
the highest. It costs approximately 13 percent of the tax collected for 
these small sellers to comply. As a result, they are not profitable tax 
collectors for the States. And what about the businesses with 
$1,000,001 in sales? Are they somehow a more efficient tax collector?
  These are not just empty fears. Businesses call me, exasperated with 
current State law collection requirements. Last Friday I received a 
call from the director of a farmers cooperative. He explained that many 
States exempt farmers from sales tax on certain goods. But the laws 
vary greatly by State on what items qualify for exemptions. Businesses 
selling to farmers already spend a lot of time determining what 
qualifies for exemption and what does not. They spend even more time 
tracking exemption certificates.
  The director then went on to explain:

       If the Marketplace Fairness Act becomes law, it appears 
     that a regional agribusiness, which might occasionally make 
     Internet sales to farmers in states outside of its territory, 
     would have to invest just as much time and effort into 
     studying and complying with the sales tax laws of far-flung 
     states, as it does in the half dozen states where it has 
       The burden of such compliance would clearly outweigh the 
     benefits of occasional sales.

  This legislation is ripe with unintended consequences. Let me give 
another example. A key loophole in this bill is that States get to 
decide what is and what is not taxable. A State could decide that stock 
trades are taxable goods or services. Then when that State's resident 
purchases shares through his broker, that Wall Street firm will be 
responsible for registering as a business for sales tax purposes, 
collecting the sales tax, and remitting the tax to the State. True, 
States have the authority to decide what is and isn't taxable--to 
date--even without this bill. But right now the only way to collect 
taxes on transactions with out-of-State businesses is through use 
  If States could now require out-of-State businesses to collect on 
their behalf, there is an incentive to expand the items that are 
taxable. This bill is going to make it very desirable for States to 
start taxing and collecting on all sorts of services--not just the 
financial world but also on services provided by attorneys, architects, 
engineers, and accountants. One can only imagine. By not asking the 
States to do anything to simplify their system in return for the 
benefit of having out-of-State business collect taxes for them, we are 
giving a carte blanche to States to impose even more taxes on 
  The act is also an abdication of the responsibility given to Congress 
under the Commerce Clause. We have the duty to recognize that the State 
sales tax systems are still too complicated and would burden interstate 
commerce if imposed on more businesses.
  The Finance Committee is committed to tackling these issues to 
provide real relief to America's families and small businesses. We have 
held more than 30 hearings on tax reform--including one specifically 
dedicated to State tax issues, such as the Marketplace Fairness Act. I 
have affirmed repeatedly to Senators Enzi and Durbin that the Finance 
Committee would work with them to mark up the bill in the next work 
period, and I stated that commitment a few moments ago personally to 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has used 10 minutes of his time.
  Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to proceed for 2 
more minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. BAUCUS. Circumventing the committee process allowed this bill to 
come to the floor full of so many unanswered questions. Avoiding the 
committee process quashes any chance to improve this bill. Evading the 
committee process denies the chance to provide a fair playing field 
among businesses and reduce the heavy burden imposed by State 
  I know some may dismiss my concerns as coming from a non-sales-tax 
State. Granted, I am always proud to protect Montana businesses. But 
this is not a Montana-only issue, nor is it an issue just for States 
without sales taxes. Lance Trebesch of and Main 
Street business owners across America show us that our interests are 
tied together. We need to stop burdening America's small businesses 
with more compliance costs and figure out ways to help them grow.
  I urge Members to vote against cloture. Do not give small businesses 
in our States more regulations and more risks with more unintended 
consequences that have not been addressed. Do not set our Main Street 
businesses up to be audited by other States' tax collectors. Give the 
members of the Finance Committee the opportunity to make this bill work 
and make it fair. I urge a vote against this motion so we can do so.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Ms. AYOTTE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that after I 
finish speaking, my colleague from Tennessee, Senator Alexander, be 
permitted to speak.

[[Page S2830]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. Reserving the right to object, if the vote is at 5:30, 
could we allocate time so that each of us could have some time before 
5:30? If the Senator would be willing to do that at this point, I would 
not object.
  Ms. AYOTTE. Absolutely. In fact, as I understand it, Senator Hatch is 
going to be coming to the floor also to speak in opposition to it. I 
only have some brief comments, and I know Senator Alexander will also. 
If we want to divide this up, I am fine with that.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. I thank the Senator from New Hampshire for her 
courtesy. I am perfectly agreeable, following her speech, to dividing 
it, if Senator Durbin wishes to suggest an allocation of time.
  Mr. DURBIN. As I understand what Ms. Ayotte has said, there are four 
members who wish to speak. I don't want to be presumptuous, but if we 
each speak for 5 minutes, then that leaves 10 minutes for those who 
might arrive whom we are not aware of. So two Senators on the 
Republican side speak for 5 minutes, I will speak 5 minutes, and then 
Senator Hatch can speak for 5 minutes. Is that fair?
  Ms. AYOTTE. That is fair. I thank the Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. I thank the Senator from New Hampshire for her 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Ms. AYOTTE. Mr. President, I rise to support the comments of my 
colleague from Montana on the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act, which 
is being brought up today on the floor. I previously said it should be 
renamed the Internet Tax Collection Act because it is going to make 
online businesses the tax collectors for the Nation. And as the Wall 
Street Journal pointed out in an editorial today called ``The Internet 
Sales Tax Rush,'' it actually puts the Internet businesses in a 
disadvantage to brick-and-mortar businesses in terms of making 
requirements on online businesses to collect taxes for transactions 
that the online businesses would not have to. And for a State such as 
mine, New Hampshire, where we do not have a sales tax, this is also 
particularly onerous and tramples on the decision that New Hampshire 
has made to not have a sales tax.
  Most important, where we stand right now with the bill pending on the 
floor, so many times there is so much around here that happens that 
does not go through regular order. Yet we have been saying on both 
sides of the aisle how important it is that when we have a major piece 
of legislation--which certainly this is--that we must go through 
regular order.
  We just heard the chairman of the Finance Committee saying that this 
is circumventing the committee process, that there has not been a 
markup of this legislation, and that there are many concerns being 
raised by online businesses across this country based on onerous 
requirements this legislation will put on them to become the tax 
collectors for States around the Nation.
  Many business groups are raising important issues and urging this 
body to go through the regular process, including the Financial 
Services Roundtable and the Security Industry and Financial Markets 
  Technet said:

       Imposing a new Internet sales tax regime is a tremendously 
     complex issue that should be addressed through regular order 
     starting in the Senate Finance Committee and done in a 
     thorough and deliberative manner.

  It seems to me that when you have an issue that will impact a growing 
and robust area of our economy; that is, online businesses that are 
selling to the Nation, where we have seen tremendous growth, we owe it 
to the American people to have this go through regular order.
  I have heard the Senate leader talk about regular order. I have heard 
the minority leader, Senator McConnell, talk about regular order. Here 
we are again not going through regular order. This should go to the 
Finance Committee. It should be thoroughly marked up in that committee.
  I see Senator Hatch. Senator Baucus and Senator Hatch both believe 
this should go through the proper committee of jurisdiction so that we 
can address the concerns raised by so many about the bill and the way 
it is drafted.
  With that, I urge my colleagues to vote against cloture. This is not 
the right way to do business. This bill, which has very important and 
negative implications for many businesses in this country and on a very 
important area of our economy, should go through regular order to 
address concerns that have already been raised by many business groups.
  Mr. President, I ask my colleagues to vote against cloture today.
  I will yield the floor. I know the Senator from Tennessee is coming 
up now, and I know that he too believes in regular order. I hope that 
he would, at least for this bill, despite his support for it, ask it go 
through regular order.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. I thank the Senator from New Hampshire and the Senator 
from Illinois for allowing me to have 5 minutes.
  I do believe in having regular order. I have been looking for it for 
quite a while on this bill. But let me start with exactly what the 
point of this bill is. This bill is about two words. It is about States 
rights. I say that as a former Governor who cares a lot about States 
  I see another former Governor sitting in the chair up there. What 
this bill does is it allows the Governor of Tennessee and the 
Legislature of Tennessee to decide whether to require out-of-State 
sellers in Tennessee to do the same thing we require of instate sellers 
in Tennessee. In other words, if the National Boot Company has to 
collect the State sales tax and send it to the State government when it 
sells a pair of boots, then an out-of-State catalog seller or an out-
of-State online seller who sells boots in Tennessee has to do the same 
thing. It is that simple.
  It is an 11-page bill. That is a rarity around here, an 11-page bill. 
It doesn't make any of these decisions for the States; it just says the 
States can make that decision for themselves. With all respect to 
ourselves, I trust the Governor of Tennessee and the legislators of 
Tennessee to make tax decisions a lot more than I trust Washington 
politicians to make them.
  This has nothing to do with the Federal Tax Code. It has zero to do 
with it. It has about as much to do with the Federal Tax Code as the 
milk production bill. Actually, milk production has more to do with the 
Federal Tax Code. This is about what a State can decide for itself.
  If somebody from Ohio or Illinois wants to sell in Tennessee, they 
need to play by the same rules everybody in Tennessee has to play by--
which is all we are deciding, or at least the Governor and Legislature 
of Tennessee ought to be able to decide that.
  It is going to be done fairly. We have an equal protection clause in 
the Constitution that says you cannot treat an out-of-State seller in a 
different way than you do an instate seller, but that is the first 
point. This is about States rights. It is about the 10th amendment. It 
is about our saying: Yes, Governor, yes, legislature, you don't have to 
play ``Mother, may I?'' to the Congress. Make your own decisions about 
taxes. If you decide you want to treat one set of businesses 
differently than others and one set of taxpayers differently than 
others, you have the right to be wrong. That is your business. But if 
you decide you want to collect taxes that are already owed--that are 
already owed; this is not a new tax, taxes that are already owed--from 
everybody who owes the tax so you can lower your tax rate for 
everybody, you are free to decide that.
  That was the argument Art Laffer made in the Wall Street Journal last 
week. Art Laffer was President Reagan's favorite economist. That is the 
point he made. States have the right to be right. He said this: States 
have the right to be wrong. But if Tennessee or Idaho or any State can 
collect taxes from everybody who owes them, it can lower the tax rate 
for everybody.
  That is why so many conservative leaders support this, Art Laffer, Al 
Cardenas, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, Gov. Mike 
Pence, Gov. Mitch Daniels--almost all the Republican Governors support 
this. But all we are deciding here in this 11-page bill is two words: 
Do we respect States' rights to decide their own tax policy? Do we 
respect States rights as the 10th amendment suggests we do?

[[Page S2831]]

  As far as regular order, I wish the Finance Committee had reported a 
bill. This legislation was first introduced in some form in 2001. As 
the chairman of the Finance Committee said, he had a hearing on part of 
it last year. That was good. The Commerce Committee had a hearing on 
almost this identical 11-page bill last August. There have been 
repeated requests of the chairman of the Finance Committee to report 
the bill. He has not. That is what rule XIV is about.
  The majority leader said: If the committee is not going to hold a 
hearing and report the bill after that amount of time, then let's put 
it on the floor, let's debate it, let's amendment it.
  It has been thoroughly considered. It has been before this body and 
the American people for a good bit of time. The bill we were to move to 
today is exactly the bill that was introduced on February 14 of this 
year, this 11 pages--exactly the bill. It has been out there for 
everybody to see all that time.
  I urge the 75 Senators who voted for this during the budget 
resolution to reaffirm their vote for States rights--at least vote 
tonight to move ahead, and let's debate it. Let's put it on the floor. 
If people have amendments or objections, let's bring them down here and 
let's debate them and vote on it. If we do not, as Senator Heitkamp has 
said, who knows----
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The time of the Senator has expired.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. If I may use 30 more seconds?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. ALEXANDER. Senator Heitkamp has pointed out that if we do not 
act, it will be one big mess. Instead of having a handful of 
jurisdictions where a seller can simply--when you buy your ice cream 
over at Williams-Sonoma and put in your credit card and ZIP Code, 
automatically the tax is collected by the seller out of State and sent 
to the State. Instead of that, you will have thousands of jurisdictions 
to contend with. This simplifies the process.
  This is States rights. This is an opportunity to debate a bill that 
has been around for more than a decade and that the country has been 
able to see for a couple of months.
  I urge our colleagues on both sides to take the conservative point of 
view and vote yes and move forward.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Tennessee. If 
this is truly a bipartisan effort on both sides of the issue, Democrats 
and Republicans see it differently. The distinguishing feature of those 
who oppose this is that so far the leading opponents are from States 
with no sales tax--New Hampshire, Oregon, Montana. One other State in 
America does not have a sales tax--Delaware. They see it differently. 
They are supporting the bill.
  Here is what it boils down to. If this bill passes as written, at the 
end of the day a resident of Montana still will not pay sales tax on 
any purchases they make in a store or on the Internet. Residents of 
Oregon will not pay a sales tax on any purchase they make in an Oregon 
store or over the Internet. The same holds true for New Hampshire. They 
are held harmless from the impact of this measure.
  However, if an Internet retailer in any of those no-sales-tax States 
wants to sell in Maine or Illinois, the terms of doing business under 
here are that they will collect the sales tax that is owed in that 
State. It is that simple.
  People have tried to make this more complicated. It is not. They have 
also suggested it is just going to be beyond anyone to calculate what 
the sales tax might be. That is just plain wrong. We are way beyond the 
quill pen and ledger days. We are now dealing with software easily 
available for a very small amount of money that can be given to any 
retailer to know exactly when Durbin of Bates Avenue in Springfield, 
IL, 62704, buys a product and what sales tax should be collected. And 
the bill provides that each State has to provide the retailer, free of 
charge, with the basic software so that they can use it to collect the 
appropriate sales tax.
  They are trying to make this more complicated than it is. Thanks to 
computers and thanks to software, it is not that complex, and neither 
is the issue that is underlying this debate. The issue is this: How in 
the world can you expect the bricks-and-mortar businesses of America to 
compete with Internet competition when the bricks-and-mortar businesses 
have to collect sales tax and the Internet competitor does not? In my 
State, that is an 8-, 
9-, or 10-percent advantage, and it is shifting more sales to the 
Internet and away from the local stores. I don't think that is fair.
  We are asking for a level playing field. A level playing field says 
that if you want to sell to a consumer in Illinois directly over the 
counter or over the Internet, you collect the same sales tax. It is 
just that simple. If you don't want to, if your business in Montana or 
Oregon does not want to collect sales tax for sales in Illinois, it is 
simple: You don't sell in Illinois. It is their choice, their call. I 
think that is basic fairness.
  Look at the groups that are supporting this. I could sit here for the 
rest of my time and read all the organizations supporting this--the 
obvious ones, the retailers across America, the men and women with the 
stores. The small businesses we venerate in speeches all the time on 
the floor of the Senate are begging us to do this so they have a 
fighting chance against Internet retailers. We are also getting a lot 
of support from Governors, from mayors, from labor unions. It is a 
diverse group--business and labor. They believe it not only is fair but 
it will raise revenue that is badly needed in a lot of these local 
units of government.
  I might also say that when you take a look at the impact of the 
current situation, you can understand why this is long overdue. Mike 
Enzi was on the floor earlier. He has been for 12 years trying to 
change this. People say: Regular order; we ought to take a little more 
time. You can understand that our patience is wearing thin--Mike's more 
than mine. I have only been at this for a few years. But we reached 
this point. We had a vote on the budget resolution. We asked the 
Members of the Senate: What do you think about this issue?
  Forty-nine from the Democratic side and 26 from the Republican side 
said: We favor going forward on this issue.
  That is the vote we will have in a few minutes. We should go forward 
on this too. Those who have constructive, relevant, germane amendments, 
bring them to the floor. Let's have a conversation. Let's get this 
issue done this week. Let's make sure we meet the challenge we have 
been given.
  I thank the Senator from Tennessee for making this as clear as I 
think any former Governor can make it. If you want to do business in 
Tennessee, play by Tennessee rules and obey Tennessee law. If you 
don't, it is just that simple and fair. In terms of imposing a new tax, 
this bill does not create one new tax.

  First, there are no Federal taxes in here--none. Second, we don't 
even have the power to impose a new State sales tax, nor would we try. 
There are no new taxes. It is simply a question of compliance and 
collecting the taxes already owed in the 46 States that currently have 
sales-and-use taxes.
  I urge my colleagues to come forward tonight at 5:30 and vote for 
cloture on the motion to proceed. Let us engage in this important 
debate. Let us not put this off another day, another week, or another 
month. Let's bring this to a conclusion in the Senate with a good, 
wholesome debate on a bipartisan basis. Germane, relevant, and 
constructive amendments that address these issues are welcome. Bring 
those amendments forward. Let's not burn up the hours of the day and 
the hours of the week in quorum calls. Let's get down to the business 
in the Senate we were meant to do.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Utah.