The Senate will debate ExIm Bank reauthorization this week, while the House will focus on Defense authorization over the next five days.
President Obama called on Congress May 8 to pass five pieces of legislation that would create jobs and strengthen the middle class. Speaking from the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s NanoTech Complex in Albany, New York, the president included on his to do list five proposals that he has previously supported, including tax credits for companies that hire and bring jobs back to the United States, a student loan bill, the pending transportation measure, a Veterans Job Corps, and clean energy credits. With respect to clean energy tax incentives, the president called specifically for an extension of the Production Tax Credit and an extension of the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit.
Even in the face of partisan gridlock on energy and other legislative issues in Washington and an already contentious election battle, some in the nation’s capitol have hope yet for the passage of a significant energy bill this year. Senate leaders are seeking a path forward for energy efficiency legislation from Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH). Senior aids for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and in both party leadership offices met with the two senators last week to discuss procedural ways to bring the legislation to the floor. The Senate Energy Committee approved the measure last July on an 18-3 vote. Representatives Charlie Bass (R-NH) and Jim Matheson (D-UT) have introduced companion language in the House.
As the House-Senate highway bill conference continues, environmental provisions such as the Keystone XL pipeline and coal ash management endure as sticking points in the debate, with both Democrats and Republicans insisting that the disagreements will not stall approval of the transportation reauthorization measure. At the same time, it is uncertain what progress has been made toward a compromise on the issues.
Senate Finance Committee staffers are working on a set of proposals addressing a package of expired and expiring tax breaks prior to the lame-duck, and the hope remains strong among staff that members themselves will soon take up these negotiations and find a solution with a reasonable chance of success in the full Senate. Meanwhile, in the House, staff is writing legislation that will extend the Bush tax cuts, in preparation for the lame duck session.