After a busy week in the House and Senate, including intense debate on numerous energy issues, Congress is now in recess until after Labor Day.
House Republican and Senate Democratic leaders said July 31 that they have struck a deal with the White House to pass a six-month continuing resolution before the government’s fiscal year ends September 30. The agreement calls for the two chambers to pass a new continuing resolution in September that will extend for 6 months fiscal year 2012 funding, reflecting the funding called for in last year’s debt limit deal. The continuing resolution is needed because none of the regular fiscal year 2013 appropriations bills have been sent to President Obama’s desk for his signature.
After a week of negotiations and amendments, on August 2 the Senate Finance Committee eliminated, by a vote of 19-5, 20 tax breaks from a list of 75 as it began the first step toward tax reform with the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012. Though you will find a detailed outline of the measure attached, it is worth calling out a few items here in particular. Just before the measure passed the committee, the increasingly politicized wind energy production tax credit was restored in the tax extenders package, though a heated debate in both chambers is still anticipated. The legislation includes a total of about $18 billion for energy-related tax incentives over ten years, including renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives such an option for those who qualify for the production tax credit to opt for the investment tax credit instead; per-gallon credits for cellulosic biofuel, biodiesel, and renewable diesel; tax incentives for home energy efficiency improvements and the production of certain appliances that exceed current efficiency standards. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) also offered an amendment to extend the 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit by $5 billion and allow biobased manufacturing to qualify for the credit.
The Senate failed to end a filibuster August 2 on Senator Joe Lieberman’s (I-VT) Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S. 3414), voting 52-46.
The House passed, 256-171, legislation August 1 to extend the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts through 2013. The measure has little chance of passage in the Senate, as the Senate passed a measure the previous week allowing tax increases on top earners.
When it returns September 10 after the August recess and the political conventions, the Senate will resume work on the continuing resolution as well as the tax extenders package and the cybersecurity bill. Though congressional leaders have made significant progress on all three measures, with political officials departing just a few weeks later for final moments on the campaign trail, time will be tight to accomplish the three pieces of legislation, thus leaving extenders and potentially cybersecurity until the post-election lame duck session.