Senate GOP Refuses Floor Debate of Renewable Energy Tax Credits
[social_buttons]For the fourth time this summer alone, Senate Republicans have blocked any formal consideration of extending renewable energy tax credits. The 51-43 vote on Wednesday to invoke cloture on S.3335 fell nine short of the 60 needed to begin floor debate (a ‘Yea’ vote indicating support for the bill and/or willingness to debate it). Although Democrats Obama, McCaskill, Rockefeller, and Kennedy did not record votes, the motion still lacked the necessary support for passage.
Renewable energy investment and production tax credits are set to expire at the end of this year and it is argued by many that passage of the credits is essential to fledgling (and still relatively expensive) solar, wind and geothermal industries.
Senate leaders had hoped that since they padded the bill with titles to extend tax breaks for teachers, businesses and parents, they would be able to muster the support of a couple more Republicans needed for its passage. But only four Senators crossed the aisle to vote with the Democrats: Susan Collins and Olympia Snow of Maine, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, and Gordon Smith of Oregon.
Fiscal philosophy or political expedience?
Many Republicans frame their position as opposition of new tax increases to pay for certain parts of the package. But the real sticking point for Republicans, they will argue, is that these ‘energy bills do nothing to promote energy.’ In other words, Senate Republicans refuse to consider extending tax breaks for renewables until they have legislation that will increase oil drilling and exploration on the outer continental shelf and elsewhere.
According to reports, to attract more Republicans, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) added new provisions to this version to give tax breaks to those hit by natural disasters in the Midwest and elsewhere and to require private insurance plans to offer mental health benefits equal to other medical benefits under their coverage. The bill would have also injected $8 billion to the federal highway trust fund to make up for an anticipated shortfall next year.
The Baucus package would have covered the cost of the tax breaks by raising some $54 billion over 10 years by preventing hedge fund managers and others from deferring certain overseas profits and by delaying a tax break for multinational corporations.
- “Let’s Try This Again: Senate to Vote on Renewables”
- “Senator Attacks Solar Energy Industry”
- “Senate to Vote on Renewables as Early as Today”
- “Senate Passes Renewable Energy Tax Credits. Shouldn’t I be More Excited?”
- “Transmission Politics Holds Up Commercial-Scale Solar”
Table: U.S. Senate