Senate GOP Refuses Floor Debate of Renewable Energy Tax Credits

  • Published on July 30th, 2008

senate vote s.3335[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.

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About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.
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  • Uncle B

    The senator's days are numbered. They are out of touch with reality and they are wasting our last resource – time! in fighting the inevitable! Sooner or later, the slowly rising price of oil and the slowly devaluating dollar and the constant upward travail of inflation will teach the final environmental lesson to the American population. The worlds resources are finite and must be conserved for human survival. Short of growing masses of super-poor Americans supporting an uber-class of ultra-rich Americans, all lifestyles must change. This does not mean suffering for all, this means a paradigm shift in values and goals. Those things that do not require massive misuse and waste of the earth's resources will become highly prized and typical American foibles, like the V-8 gasoline engine, McMansions, and fellatio by consumerism, the shopping disease, if you will, have to drop into the gulf of ignorance, where they belong. The best of America will survive the coming energy crunch and its great depression. Those with conservative values, low consumptive habits and good education will rise and flourish in the days of $12.00+ gal gas ahead. Those who cannot resist spending on all that is shiny or goes vroom-vroom, will perish in the piles of recyclable baubbles, of starvation and debt. The new oil free world cannot afford the social extravagances of the past, and sloth, gluttony, and greed will give way to efficiency, good health and education. Survival in the 21st century will require more effort on the part of the capable human being, both the physically and mentally capable. All others will fall by the wayside in poverty and disgrace!

  • SF Kate –

    Apparently!

  • Maine women senators rock!!!!

  • Talk the talk, please. Securing our energy production is the most vital thing we can do to keep our country safe and prosperous.