Following an ongoing dispute over amendments, the Senate fell short May 15 of the 60 votes needed to limit debate on the Senate Finance Committee-approved tax extenders package (H.R. 3474). In a 53-40 vote, all but one Republican voted against the motion, including Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who wrote the original production tax credit and supports the overall $85 billion tax extender package. Other energy components of the package include credits for cellulosic biofuels, biodiesel and renewable diesels, home energy efficiency upgrades, new energy efficient homes and commercial buildings, alternative fuel refueling property, electric motorcycles, and fuel cell motor vehicles. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will meet early this week to negotiate a deal on amendments in an attempt to move the bill forward before the Memorial Day recess.
The Senate’s failure to move forward with the tax extenders package marks the second time in a week that Republicans have halted bills with significant bipartisan support because of a disagreement over amendments, the first being the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency package (S. 2280) last Monday. It remains unclear whether the chamber will reach a deal over amendments on either measure, though Democrats and Republicans have both left that possibility open, and many Republicans have an interest in the tax package in particular. Of course, even if the Senate does eventually clear the legislation, it is uncertain whether the House would take up either package.
The House returns this week from its recess to begin addressing some of the must-pass bills of the year, including a measure to establish defense policy and fiscal year 2015 authorizations. The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (H.R. 3080) will return to the House floor May 20 with a House-Senate conference report containing a long list of compromises to outline the way water infrastructure projects are studied, authorized, and funded.