The U.S. Senate on Wednesday again rejected a call for a vote on a bill to extend renewable-energy tax credits.
It’s hardly surprising, as it’s the fourth time this summer that Democrats fell a few votes short of the 60 needed to end the debate over a bill that would have extended the credits. The vote calling for cloture, which would have ended a filibuster and required a yes-or-no vote on the bill, was 51-43.
Among other provisions, the bill would have extended a 30 percent investment-tax credit for solar energy and fuel cells for eight years, doubled the cap on the residential solar credit to $4,000 and extended the credit for eight years and extended production tax credits for wind-power facilities for one year (see Senate to Vote on New Renewable Incentives Bill).
Debate about how the incentives will be funded has led the list of concerns about the program. The latest bill tried to sweeten the pot for Republicans with tax breaks for natural disaster victims, the removal of a tax break for trial lawyers and $8 billion for a federal highway trust fund, among other provisions.
Republicans want to focus on reducing the price of gas at the pump before turning to other matters, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas told the Associated Press, which added that many in the party have called for the Senate to act on an energy bill intended to boost the domestic oil supply.
The American Wind Energy Association said the stalled tax bill puts 116,000 jobs and nearly $19 billion at risk in the renewable-energy industries (also see Solar Firms Struggle to Forecast 2009).
“America’s wind industry has a critical role to play as a major source of jobs and growth in a troubled economy, and as a readily available component of the global warming solution. However, continuing delay in Congress is standing in the way of that economic growth and environmental progress,” said Gregory Wetstone, a senior director at the association, in a written statement.
“We strongly urge Congressional leaders to move quickly to find another path for a rapid extension of the tax incentives needed to put our nation on the road to a clean and secure energy future.”
A Dallas News editorial on Wednesday also took the side of the renewable-energy industry, saying the decision to extend the credits should be an easy one for the Senate.
“Republicans and Democrats alike have championed these incentives for the solar and wind industries,” read the editorial. “Voters, too, have shown strong support for clean energy initiatives. But so far, political squabbling and parliamentary maneuvering have trumped common-sense public policy.”
The Senate could try to squeeze in another vote on the tax-credits bill this week before the August recess, according to the Dallas News editorial and Reuters.