Duh! — ClimateProgress (see “Did House Dems kill renewable tax credit extension?”).E&E News has the painful, yet tragically inevitable, story:
The House will likely adjourn without passing a suite of renewable energy tax breaks, House leaders told Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today.
Asked whether House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) had given him hope during their meeting that anything would happen with a tax extenders measure before the House adjourned, Baucus said flatly, “No.”
If Congress does not extend the renewable energy tax credits, it will be the single biggest failure of the Democratic Congress on energy this year. Here’s the rest of the story for those interested in autopsies:
Baucus added that he did not know whether the measure would come up again during a potential lame-duck session after the election or next year. “We’re trying to figure out what’s next,” he said.
The House had planned to adjourn this afternoon after passing a Wall Street rescue package, but after it failed, decided to stay in longer. That may give both sides more time to negotiate. “There’s still hope,” Baucus said. “We’re keeping hope alive.”
Baucus said both sides deserve blame. “It’s a larger issue of the House and Senate just don’t talk to each other enough, work out trust and understanding,” he said. “That’s what this really is. They’re in their little world, we’re in our little world. It’s sitting down like adults, both sides, House and Senate, and working out solutions.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) this morning asked for unanimous consent to bring up energy tax extenders, but Republican senators objected. The measure would prevent expiration at year’s end of credits for wind, solar and other renewable projects.
“We tried again over here to pass one of the extenders, one of the easiest ones that is paid for, the energy incentive, but that was objected to over here by Republicans,” Baucus said. “So what we’re demonstrating is we just can’t pass those over here.”
Baucus and Senate leaders want the House simply to bring up and pass the Senate version of the bill. But Hoyer today said the House would not simply give in to the Senate’s demands. “Legislating by blunt force is not the way we need to proceed,” he said.
Hoyer raised the prospect that the effort to reach a deal may not be resolved this year. “I will continue to work with Senator Reid on the extenders to see what can be done — even if it’s next year,” he said.
The incentives are caught up in a broader fight over how to pay for other credits. The Senate packaged the paid-for energy credits with a partially offset package of other business and personal tax breaks, a one-year “patch” for the Alternative Minimum Tax and other measures.
The House, in contrast, approved a fully offset package of energy, business and personal credits, and moved the AMT and other measurers separately. Fiscally conservative House Democrats insist on paying for all the various business and personal credits, while under a carefully negotiated Senate package these measures are not fully offset.
Renewable energy industry groups and environmentalists have not given up hope. Various advocacy groups are continuing their appeals. “If left unresolved, this lack of legislation will be a major impediment to continued investment and innovation in the clean technology sector,” said Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association.
A quartet of renewable energy trade groups this morning called on lawmakers to stay in session until they extend the credits.
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