U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said he “probably” won’t support legislation to let states require out-of-state Internet retailers to collect sales taxes, saying it would be too cumbersome to implement.
“Moving this bill where you’ve got 50 different sales tax codes, it’s a mess out there,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Washington. “You’re going to make it much more difficult for online retailers to be able to comply.”
The Senate passed the bill May 6 in a bipartisan vote of 69-27, with support from 21 Republicans. Asked whether he could back it, Boehner said, “probably not.”
A lack of support from the speaker emphasizes the difficulty the measure will have winning House passage, especially in its current form. The House Judiciary Committee will consider the Senate bill, Boehner said.
“We’ll see what they think,” he said. “You’re putting in a big burden on some very small businesses.”
The measure is backed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other retailers that say it’s unfair to allow many sales made over the Internet or through catalogs to be untaxed. States lose an estimated $23 billion annually in forgone revenue from uncollected sales taxes.
Boehner also said he is “committed” to resolving the debate over curbing illegal immigration and fixing the “broken” system for legally entering the U.S.
“We’re going to have votes,” the speaker said. “We are going to deal with immigration in the House.”
While he didn’t say what approach he supports on immigration policy, Boehner said “it’s time to deal honestly with a big challenge.” He said he expects a group of eight House Republicans and Democrats to present their immigration proposal “very soon.”
“What I’ve been trying to do is to continue to foster the education and the discussion about how we resolve it,” Boehner said. “It’s not going to be easy.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin considering a separate bipartisan immigration proposal this week.
Boehner reiterated his opposition to increasing tax revenue as part of any deficit-reduction bargain. He said the focus should be on cutting spending and balancing the federal budget in 10 years.
While he has previously said he won’t negotiate with President Barack Obama behind closed doors any more, the speaker said all sides need to have a role in working out an agreement.
“I’ll dance with whoever will dance to solve this problem,” Boehner said. “So everybody needs to play a role if we’re going to solve this problem.”
Boehner sought to deflect criticism from Democrats that by cutting spending the U.S. would risk the sort of damper on growth that European countries have seen after enacting austerity measures.
“We are not Europe, all right?” Boehner said. “We’re talking about long-term spending problem. It’s really not going to affect anything in the near future.”
“The president wants to go out there and crow about the fact that the economy is growing -- barely,” Boehner said. “This is not the kind of economic growth that’s going to help our country long term. You got wages that are stagnant. You have few opportunities of, if you will, walking up the economic ladder.”
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