Senate consideration of the small business bill (HR 5297) is expected to begin on July 20. On July 17, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that he had reached an agreement with Republicans on permitted amendments, although it remains to be seen whether he will allow Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) to offer their motion to phase in a 35% rate and $3.5 million exemption.

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee has begun to discuss action to prevent the expiration the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts for those earning less than $200,000 per year. Senators continue to disagree on whether an extension should include individuals earning more than $200,000 per year and whether it should be permanent or temporary. The 2001/2003 tax cut extension continues to be mentioned as a potential ultimate vehicle for estate tax reform.