In a 234-197 vote that went mostly along party lines, the Republican-led House approved a procedural move that will likely remove language from a $32 billion Department of Homeland Security spending bill that would have prevented the agency from awarding contracts to foreign-based contractors.
Earlier this month, Homeland Security tapped the IT services and consulting firm to build the US-Visit (United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology) system under a deal that could be worth up to $10 billion over 10 years. Critics of the deal say Accenture, which conducts most of its business operations from Illinois, uses its offshore status to lower its tax bill. Accenture insists it pays its fair share of U.S. taxes and therefore should not be stripped of the contract.
The Accenture contract would benefit a wide array of subcontractors and is strongly supported by the business community and the House Republican leadership. Opponents acknowledge they face an uphill fight and hope the Senate will keep the issue alive.
"These companies have an obligation to the United States of America to pay their taxes," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. "If you want to feed at the public trough, you have to pay your taxes."
The vote was no surprise; similar provisions have been killed or weakened during the past two years. The bill was expected to retain language barring the Homeland Security Department from entering future contracts with companies headquartered offshore.
Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., said DeLauro's amendment was designed to "score some political points" and was picking on a company that pays all the taxes it legally owes.
Separately, Accenture on Thursday said it expects its third-quarter revenue to jump 21% year-over-year to $3.69 billion and per-share earnings to climb 31% to 37 cents. Accenture officials say strong outsourcing sales are behind the numbers. It's scheduled to formally report its third-quarter earnings for the period ending May 31 on July 7.