As the payroll tax credit, unemployment insurance, and doc fix package debate continues in the House and Senate, energy issues are being highlighted in a number of areas.
Republicans on the House-Senate conference committee, led by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) urged the panel February 2 to delay the Environmental Protection Agency’s boiler MACT rule as it works to extend the payroll tax cut through the end of 2012. They contended that so doing would, like the payroll tax cut extension (H.R. 3630), boost the economy and save jobs. The House approved legislation (H.R. 2250, 275-142) in October to delay the rules, and there is growing bipartisan support for the Senate version (S. 1392) of the bill. House legislation extending the 2 percent payroll tax cut through the end of 2012 includes language delaying the EPA rule, but the Senate version was silent on the issue, so the conference committee must decide whether the language stays in the final measure.
Senate Finance Committee Republicans and Democrats agreed January 31 that tax extenders ought to be included in discussions over comprehensive tax reform. The members, however, could not agree if the expired and expiring provisions should be acted on in 2012 before a full reform effort can be accomplished. Fifty-nine tax provisions expired at the end of 2011 that would have cost $35 billion, and more will expire at the end of the year without congressional action. If Congress does decide to consider a tax extender package to continue some or all of the expiring and expired provisions, members will have to decide when to take up the package that has traditionally come at the end of the year; some are urging the committee to act early to extend select measures, and Congress will also have to consider how to pay for any changes, extensions, and expansions of the current extenders package. Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) highlighted the difficulties businesses face in planning and investing when the tax credits and deductions that rely upon last no longer than a few years, and called for a long-term fix to traditional tax extenders via tax reform.
This week, the Senate will debate the conference report for the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization (H.R. 658) which passed the House on February 3 by a 248-169 vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) scheduled debate and a vote on the measure for the afternoon of February 6. Meanwhile, House leaders will move on the STOCK Act (S. 2038) per President Obama’s State of the Union plea for legislation that would end Congressional insider trading. The Senate already approved S. 2038 by a 96-3 vote on February 2.