WASHINGTON – Steve Foglesong, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president, is happy the US Senate passed a procedural vote to move forward with consideration of an agreement between leaders in the Senate to extend all expiring tax rates for two years.

The agreement includes a two-year fix for the estate tax, known as the death tax, which reduces the top rate to 35%; increases the exemption level to $5 million; indexes exemptions to inflation; and includes a stepped-up basis. Foglesong said he urges the Senate to vote “yes” on final passage of the legislation as currently written.

“It is encouraging the Senate has taken the first step necessary to passing meaningful estate tax reform, but we’re not there yet,” Foglesong said. “Farmers, ranchers and small business owners need relief from this tax that could put them out of business. The Reid/McConnell amendment is our best shot at stopping the death tax from returning to devastating levels.”

The Senate voted to invoke cloture and end debate on the Reid/McConnell amendment by a vote of 83-15. It has been reported the Senate will vote on final passage of the Reid/McConnell amendment on Dec. 14. Once passing in the Senate, the amendment will be sent to the House for consideration before being sent to President Obama to be signed into law.

“Political pundits talk about how the death tax will only affect the wealthy elite,” Foglesong said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth, and it is encouraging to know that an overwhelming majority of US Senators understand the return of the death tax to pre-2001 levels of a 55% tax and an exemption level of $1 million will deliver a death sentence to family-owned farms and ranches across the country. It is time for the Senate to pass the Reid/McConnell amendment with broad bipartisan support and send a loud and clear message to the House that the time for political games and lofty speeches has expired.”