The Eight Missed Votes

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 12 Sep 2008 13:11:00 GMT

In August, Tom Friedman penned “Eight Strikes and You’re Out” on McCain’s record on extending renewable energy production and investment tax credits:
Senator McCain did not show up for the crucial vote on July 30, and the renewable energy bill was defeated for the eighth time. In fact, John McCain has a perfect record on this renewable energy legislation. He has missed all eight votes over the last year — which effectively counts as a no vote each time. Once, he was even in the Senate and wouldn’t leave his office to vote.
The eight votes:
  • July 30: S. 3335 filibustered 51-43 [Roll Call #192]
  • June 17: H.R. 6049 filibustered 52-44 [Roll Call #150]
  • June 10: H.R. 6049 filibustered 50-44 [Roll Call #147]
  • April 10: S. Amdt. 4419 (tax credits without offsets, attached to Dodd housing bill) passes 88-8 [Roll Call #95]
  • February 6: S. Amdt 3983 to H.R. 5140 (tax credits without offsets, attached to stimulus package) filibustered by one vote (58-41; Reid procedural vote with GOP, McCain not voting) [Roll Call #8]
  • December 13: H.R. 6 filibustered by one vote (59-40; Landrieu with GOP, McCain not voting) [Roll Call #425]
  • December 7: H.R. 6 filibustered 53-42 [Roll Call #416]
  • June 21: S.Amdt. 1704 filibustered 57-36 (Landrieu with GOP, Boxer, Brownback, Coburn, Johnson, McCain, Sessions not voting) [Roll Call #223]

The one time the tax credit extension passed, it was known to be a deal-breaker in the House, since there was no funding mechanism approved and it was tied to the housing bill.

See Hill Heat’s earlier timeline of Republican obstruction on extending the renewable tax credits.

House Debating Oil-For-Renewables Package Today

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 27 Feb 2008 17:11:00 GMT

From the beginning of her tenure, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has attempted to pass legislation cutting billions in tax breaks and royalty payments to oil and gas companies to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The legislation has died twice by a single vote in the Senate – in December as part of the energy bill (H.R. 6), and three weeks ago as part of the economic stimulus legislation (H.R. 5140).

House leadership announced plans to immediately reintroduce the legislation as a standalone bill, named the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008 (H.R. 5351).

Debate on the bill is now taking place, with a final vote scheduled for some time after 3 PM EST.

Update: HR 5351 passed by a roll call vote of 236-182. 17 Republicans joined the Democratic majority; 8 Democrats (Barrow, Boren, Cuellar, Gene Green, Lampson, Melancon, Ortiz, Rodriguez) voted against passage.

CRS summary:
Extends: (1) the tax credit for production of electricity from renewable resources through 2011; (2) the energy tax credit for solar energy and fuel cell property through 2016; (3) the special rule for treatment of gain from electronic transmission transactions by certain electric utilities through 2009; (4) the tax credit for residential energy efficient property expenditures through 2014; (5) the tax credit for alternative fuel vehicle refueling property expenditures through 2010; (6) the tax credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel used as fuel through 2010; (7) the tax credit for nonbusiness energy property expenditures through 2009; and (8) the tax deduction for energy efficient commercial buildings through 2013.

Allows new tax credits for: (1) investment in new clean renewable energy bonds and qualified energy conservation bonds; and (2) the production of plug-in hybrid motor vehicles, cellulosic alcohol fuel, and electricity from marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy sources.

Revises the definition of “passenger automobile” for purposes of the limitation on depreciation deductions.

Allows a tax exclusion for bicycle commuting reimbursements.

Revises certain tax incentives for investment in the New York Liberty Zone.

Revises tax credit amounts for certain energy efficient household appliances produced after 2007.

Allows a five-year recovery period for the depreciation of qualified energy management devices.

Places limits on the tax deduction for income attributable to the domestic production of oil, natural gas, and any related products.

Revises tax rules relating to foreign oil and gas extraction income and foreign produced fuel used or sold outside the United States.

EPA Admin Denies California Waiver 27

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 20 Dec 2007 14:37:00 GMT

EPA administrator Stephen Johnson’s denial of California’s petition to regulate tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions following the White House energy bill signing ceremony was deservedly front page news from coast to coast. The Supreme Court forced the EPA to consider California’s December 2005 Clean Air Act waiver request in April 2007 (Massachusetts v. EPA). In testimony before the Senate and the House earlier this year, Johnson signaled his lack of desire to grant the waiver. Now that decision has come in, with justifications even EPA’s own laywers and policy staff don’t believe. This is the first time in the history of the Clean Air Act that the EPA has denied a section 209 California waiver request.

[Ed.—Warming Law has superior analysis of the decision, from which I’ll steal some key insights.]

The EPA, which is yet to release the formal denial, announced in its press release that the increased CAFE standards in the new energy law to justify its denial of the California waiver:
EPA has determined that a unified federal standard of 35 miles per gallon will deliver significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks in all 50 states, which would be more effective than a partial state-by-state approach of 33.8 miles per gallon.

Warming Law says “EPA appears to be attempting to add a new test to the Clean Air Act” in requiring that California prove a local interest in addition to the “compelling” and “extraordinary” standards the Supreme Court said this problem meets.

Warming Law’s Tim Dowling notes that Johnson’s claim the waiver would create a “confusing patchwork of state rules” is typical industry rhetoric that is specious—only two sets of standards, national and California, would apply. “Johnson failed to explain how EPA has been able to grant EVERY other 209 waiver request in history without creating a confusing patchwork, but can’t do so here.”

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post reveals that Johnson overrode his staff.
In a PowerPoint presentation prepared for the administrator, aides wrote that if Johnson denied the waiver and California sued, “EPA likely to lose suit.”

If he allowed California to proceed and automakers sued, the staff wrote, “EPA is almost certain to win.”

The technical and legal staffs cautioned Johnson against blocking California’s tailpipe standards, the sources said, and recommended that he either grant the waiver or authorize it for a three-year period before reassessing it.

“Nobody told the administration they support [a denial], and it has the most significant legal challenges associated with it,” said one source, in an interview several hours before Johnson’s announcement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official is not authorized to speak for the agency. “The most appropriate action is to approve the waiver.”

President Signs Energy Bill; NYT Praises Dingell, Slams Landrieu

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 19 Dec 2007 20:39:00 GMT

From the New York Times Editorial blog:
The Energy Bill: A Hero and a Villain

President Bush has just signed into law an energy bill that could have been even better but still remains an impressive achievement. The long struggle to produce that bill yielded the usual quotient of heroes and villains, but two deserve special mention:

John Dingell, who could have been a villain but chose to be a hero; and Mary Landrieu, who could have been a hero but chose to be a villain.

Mr. Dingell was a most unlikely hero. A Michigan Democrat and a reliable defender of the automobile industry, he had long resisted efforts to mandate new fuel efficiency standards, which had not been updated for more than 30 years.

But there has always been a softer, “greener” side to this crusty octogenarian that people often overlook. An architect of the original Clean Water Act of 1972, he cares a lot about wetlands preservation, endangered species and other environmental causes. He is also a fairly recent convert to the climate change issue, describing the global warming threat with phrases like “Hannibal is at the gates.”

So when Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, made a personal pledge to upgrade fuel efficiency standards, Mr. Dingell agreed, in exchange for one or two modest concessions, to get out of the way. He did more than that. When environmentalists complained that the Senate’s mandate for a huge increase in ethanol could threaten forests, wetlands and conservation areas, Mr. Dingell made sure the final bill contained the necessary safeguards. He also insisted on a provision requiring that ethanol from corn or any other source produce a net benefit in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Ms. Landrieu was an altogether different story. The Louisiana Democrat broke ranks with her Democratic colleagues and gave President Bush and the Republican leadership the one-vote margin they needed to strike a key provision that would have rescinded about $12 billion in tax breaks for the oil industry and shifted the money to research and development of cleaner sources of energy.

The White House argued that these tax breaks were necessary to insure the oil industry’s economic health and to protect consumers at the pump. Given industry’s $100 billion-per-year profits, these arguments were absurd on their face, but Ms. Landrieu promoted both of them and added one of her own: The energy bill was “one-sided policymaking” that left “Louisiana footing the bill.”

Never mind that the rest of the country is footing the bill for the repair and restoration of Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That is a just and worthy cause and one that the nation is willing to help pay for. But isn’t reducing oil dependency and global warming emissions by rewarding traditional fossil fuels a bit less, and rewarding newer, cleaner fuels a bit more, also a just and worthy cause? One that Louisiana could help pay for? That is something Ms. Landrieu might ask herself the next time she puts her state’s interest ahead of the nation’s.

Bush-Approved Energy Bill Passes House

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 18 Dec 2007 19:54:00 GMT

By a vote of 314-100, the House of Representatives approved the Senate version of the energy bill this afternoon.

The bill, which contains a major biofuels mandate (also known as the renewable fuels standard) and increased fuel economy, building, and appliance standards, has been given the okay by the president.

The New York Times today looks into the possible implications of the ethanol mandate.

White House-Approved Energy Bill Passes Senate 86-8 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 14 Dec 2007 01:35:00 GMT

After Sen. Reid dropped the oil-for-renewable tax package following a failed cloture vote on the energy bill this morning, Republicans removed the filibuster threat and President Bush dropped his veto threat, having achieved a bill that met essentially all of the White House conditions.

This evening, the senatorial candidates having left the city, the Senate moved directly to a vote (ending debate by unanimous consent) on the final revision of the energy bill, which retains strengthened CAFE, appliance, and building standards, and a strong biofuels mandate with White House-approved tax adjustments for revenue.

The bill passed 86-8, Sen. Stabenow (D-Mich.) joining seven Republicans (Wyoming, Oklahoma, Hatch, DeMint, and Kyl) in opposition.

Energy Bill Filibustered By One Vote: Reid To Drop Oil-for-Renewable Tax Package 4

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 13 Dec 2007 15:00:00 GMT

By a roll call vote of 59-40, Senate Democrats failed to muster the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster threatened by Republicans of the compromise energy legislation which retained the tax package under veto threat but not the House-approved renewable energy standard. Sen. Reid plans to reintroduce a version of the energy bill which contains the CAFE and biofuels provisions later today.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) was the only Democrat to vote with the Republicans. Coleman, Collins, Grassley, Hatch, Lugar, Murkowski, Smith, Snowe, and Thune voted with the Democrats. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), on the campaign trail, was the one senator not voting.

Consideration of Farm Bill and Energy Bill

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 13 Dec 2007 13:30:00 GMT

The Senate is scheduled to consider the Farm Bill (H.R. 2419 with S.Amdt. 3500) and the energy bill (H.R. 6 with S.Amdt. 3841).

Under a unanimous consent agreement, all amendments to the farm bill were required to get 60 votes to end debate and be accepted.

In roll call vote 424, the Dorgan-Grassley amendment (S.Amdt. 3695) to the Farm Bill was rejected 56-43.

In roll call vote 425, cloture on the latest compromise version of the energy bill was rejected 59-40.

In roll call vote 426, the Klobuchar “means-testing” amendment (S.Amdt. 3810) to the Farm Bill was rejected 48-47.

The amendment, supported by the administration, would have limited subsidies to full-time farmers making less than $750,000 a year, and landowners whose primary income comes from outside the farm making less than $250,000 a year.

In roll call vote 427, the Tester-Grassley Competition Title packer price manipulation amendment (S.Amdt. 3666) to the Farm Bill was rejected 40-55.

The amendment, as explained by Tom Philpott:
Price manipulation is clearly prohibited by the Packers & Stockyards Act (PSA), but some judges have recently ruled that price manipulation is excused if a packer or processor can show “a legitimate business justification” for manipulating prices—such as gaining access to more livestock at the price they want to pay. This defense to price manipulation is not in the PSA and the court rulings, if allowed to stand, weaken the law substantially. The amendment filed by Senators Tester (D-MT), Harkin (D-IA), and Grassley (R-IA) will clarify that the PSA cannot be interpreted to include “a legitimate business justification” for market manipulation.

Reid Announces New Energy Bill Compromise, Drops RES

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 12 Dec 2007 19:53:00 GMT

To gain the 60 votes a cloture vote on the energy bill (H.R. 6) needs for success, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has dropped the Renewable Energy Standard provision from the package, which still contains the 35 MPG by 2020 CAFE standard, a 36 billion gallon by 2022 biofuels mandate, appliance and building efficiency standards, and a broad tax/green jobs package. The White House has threatened to veto the bill for the CAFE standards and tax package. Reid held a cloture vote on the House version last week, which failed by a vote of 53-42. The new cloture vote is scheduled for Thursday.

The tax package was reworked by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee.

The reworked tax package, which remains at about $21 billion paid for mostly by closing loopholes that favor oil and gas companies, changes the terms of the renewable production tax credit extension. The extension is limited to two years but the cap on credit an individual project can receive is dropped.

Other modifications include a new category of tax exempt bonds for electric transmission facilities, a $2500 tax credit for plug-in hybrid conversion kits, and the removal of an incentive for the construction of natural gas distribution infrastructure. Enforcement of prevailing-wage restrictions under Davis-Bacon was also dropped.

The full description of the tax package (“The Clean Renewable Energy and Conservation Tax Act of 2007”) is below.

The Clean Renewable Energy and Conservation Tax Act of 2007

December 12, 2007

I. CLEAN RENEWABLE ENERGY INCENTIVES

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Extension and modification of Section 45. The proposal extends the placed-in-service date for two years (through December 31, 2010) for qualifying facilities: wind, closed-loop biomass; open-loop biomass; geothermal; small irrigation hydro; landfill gas; and trash combustion facilities. Also modifies the market value test for refined coal while increasing its emissions requirements for sulfur dioxide and mercury. The proposal also adds tidal energy as a qualifying resource and eliminates the third party sale rule for closed and open-loop biomass facilities. The proposal is estimated to cost $6.22 billion over ten years.

Long-term extension and modification of solar energy and fuel cell investment tax credit. The bill extends the 30% investment tax credit for solar energy property and qualified fuel cell property and the 10% investment tax credit for microturbines for eight years (through the end of 2016). It also increases the $500 per half kilowatt of capacity cap for qualified fuel cells to $1,500 per half kilowatt of capacity. The bill removes an existing limitation that prevents public utilities from claiming the investment tax credit. The bill would also provide a new 10% investment tax credit for combined heat and power systems. The bill also allows these credits to be used to offset alternative minimum tax (AMT). This proposal is estimated to cost $602 million over 10 years.

Long-term extension and modification of the residential energy-efficient property credit. The bill would extend the credit for residential solar property for six years (through the end of 2014). The bill would also increase the annual credit cap (currently capped at $2,000) to $4,000. The bill would include residential small wind equipment as property qualifying for this credit. The bill also allows the credit to be used to offset alternative minimum tax (AMT). This proposal is estimated to cost approximately $317 million over ten years.

Sales of electric transmission property. The bill extends the present-law deferral of gain on sales of transmission property by vertically integrated electric utilities to FERC-approved independent transmission companies. Rather than recognizing the full amount of gain in the year of sale, this provision allows gain on such sales to be recognized ratably over an 8-year period. The rule applies to sales before January 1, 2010. This proposal is revenue neutral over 10 years.

Transmission Bonds. The bill creates a new category of tax exempt bonds for electric transmission facilities. The bonds fall within the regular state private activity bond cap limitations. This proposal is estimated to cost $96 million over 10 years. New Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (“CREBs”). The bill authorizes $2 billion of new clean renewable energy bonds to finance facilities that generate electricity from the following resources: wind; closed-loop biomass; open-loop biomass; geothermal; small irrigation; hydropower; landfill gas; marine renewable; and trash combustion facilities. This $2 billion authorization will be subdivided into thirds: 1/3 will be available for qualifying projects of State/local/tribal governments; 1/3 for qualifying projects of public power providers; and 1/3 for qualifying projects of electric cooperatives. This proposal is estimated to cost $550 million over 10 years.

CARBON MITIGATION AND COAL

Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) demonstration projects. The bill would provide $2 billion of tax credits for the creation of advanced coal electricity projects and certain coal gasification projects that demonstrate the greatest potential for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. Of these $2 billion of incentives, $1.5 billion would be awarded to advanced coal electricity projects and $500 million would be awarded to certain coal gasification projects. These tax credits would be awarded by Treasury through an application process, with the applicants that demonstrate the greatest carbon capture and sequestration percentage of total CO2 emissions receiving the highest priority. Applications will not be considered unless applicants can demonstrate that either their advanced coal electricity project would capture and sequester at least 65% of the facility’s carbon dioxide emissions or that their coal gasification project would capture and sequester at least 75% of the facility’s carbon dioxide emissions. Once these credits are awarded, recipients that fail to meet these minimum levels of carbon capture and sequestration would forfeit their tax credits. This proposal is estimated to cost $1.794 billion over 10 years.

Accelerated depreciation for CO2 pipelines. In order to facilitate the creation of infrastructure to transport captured CO2 to suitable sequestration sites, the bill would allow taxpayers to write-off the cost of CO2 pipelines that are installed after the date of enactment and before January 1, 2011 using accelerated depreciation over a seven-year period (as opposed to the 15-year period allowed under current law). This proposal is estimated to cost $50 million over 10 years.

Solvency for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. The bill would enact the President’s proposal to bring the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund out of debt. Under current law, an excise tax is imposed on coal at a rate of $1.10 per ton for coal from underground mines and $0.55 per ton for coal from surface mines (aggregate tax per ton capped at 4.4 percent of the amount sold by the producer). Receipts from this tax are deposited in the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, which is used to pay compensation, medical and survivor benefits to eligible miners and their survivors and to cover costs of program administration. The Trust Fund is permitted to borrow from the general fund any amounts necessary to make authorized expenditures if excise tax receipts do not provide sufficient funding. Reduced rates of excise tax apply after the earlier of December 31, 2013 or the date on which the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund has repaid, with interest, all amounts borrowed from the general fund of the Treasury. The President’s Budget proposes that the current excise tax rate should continue to apply beyond 2013 until all amounts borrowed from the general fund of the Treasury have been repaid with interest. After repayment, the reduced excise tax rates of $0.50 per ton for coal from underground mines and $0.25 per ton for coal from surface mines would apply (aggregate tax per ton capped at 2 percent of the amount sold by the producer). The bill would enact the President’s proposal (with a reduced rate after 2017). This proposal is estimated to raise $966 million over 10 years.

Refund of certain coal excise taxes unconstitutionally collected from exporters. The Courts have determined that the Export Clause of the U.S. Constitution applies to the excise tax on exported coal and, therefore, such taxes are subject to a claim for refund. The bill would create a new procedure under which certain coal producers and exporters may claim a refund of these excise taxes that were imposed on coal exported from the United States. Under this procedure, coal producers or exporters that exported coal during the period beginning on or after October 1, 1990 and ending on or before the date of enactment of the bill, may obtain a refund (plus interest) from the Treasury of excise taxes paid on such exported coal and any interest accrued from the date of overpayment. This proposal is estimated to cost $120 million over 10 years.

Carbon audit of the tax code. The bill directs the Secretary of the Treasury to request that the National Academy of Sciences undertake a comprehensive review of the tax code to identify the types of specific tax provisions that have the largest effects on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions and to estimate the magnitude of those effects. This proposal has no revenue effect.

II. TRANSPORTATION AND DOMESTIC FUEL SECURITY

BIOFUELS

Cellulosic alcohol production credit. The bill creates a new production tax credit for cellulosic alcohol produced for use as a fuel. The amount of this credit is equal to the difference between $1.01 per gallon and the per gallon ethanol blender tax credit (currently 51 cents per gallon). For example, this credit would be $1.01 per gallon if the ethanol blender credit were to expire and would be 55 cents per gallon if the ethanol blender credit were reduced to 46 cents under a different provision in this bill. The credit may only be claimed on up to 60 million gallons per taxpayer. This credit would be available through the end of 2013. This proposal is estimated to cost $482 million over 10 years.

Expansion of allowance for property to produce cellulosic alcohol. Under current law, taxpayers are allowed to immediately write off 50% of the cost of facilities that produce cellulosic ethanol if such facilities are placed in service before January 1, 2013. Consistent with other provisions in the bill that seek to be technology neutral, the bill would allow this write off to be available for the production of other cellulosic alcohols in addition to cellulosic ethanol. This proposal is estimated to cost $1 million over 10 years.

Coordination of ethanol blender credit with the renewable fuels standard (RFS). The bill ensures that the ethanol blender credit takes into account the additional incentive for the use of ethanol that the renewable fuel standard (RFS) provides. Upon the production or importation of 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol in any calendar year, the 51 cent ethanol credit will be reduced to 46 cents per gallon. This proposal is estimated to raise $854 million over 10 years.

Extension of biodiesel production tax credit; extension and modification of renewable diesel tax credit. The bill extends for two years (through December 31, 2010) the $1.00 and 50 cent per gallon production tax credits for biodiesel and the small biodiesel producer credit of 10 cents per gallon. The bill also extends for two years (through December 31, 2010) the $1.00 per gallon production tax credit for diesel fuel created from biomass. The bill eliminates the requirement that the diesel fuel must be produced using a thermal depolymerization process. As a result, the credit will be available for any diesel fuel created from biomass without regard to the process used so long as the fuel is usable as a fuel in vehicles [or as aviation jet fuel]. The bill also clarifies that the $1 per gallon production credit for renewable diesel is limited to diesel fuel that is produced solely from biomass. Diesel fuel that is created by co-processing biomass with other feedstocks (e.g., petroleum) will be eligible for the 50 cent per gallon tax credit for alternative fuels. Biodiesel that is imported and sold for export will not be eligible for the credit beginning the date of enactment. The proposal is estimated to cost $216 million over 10 years.

Refinery expensing. The proposal extends for two years (through January 1, 2013) the placed-in-service requirement and the building construction contract requirement through 2009. The proposal provides 50% bonus depreciation for costs incurred for a new refinery or an existing refinery to increase total capacity by 5% or process nonconventional feedstocks at a rate equal or greater to 25% of the total throughput of the refinery. The proposal is estimated to cost $922 billion over 10 years.

Comprehensive study of biofuels. The bill directs the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to request that the National Academy of Sciences produce an analysis of current scientific findings relating to the future production of biofuels and the domestic effects of a dramatic increase in the production of biofuels. This proposal has no revenue effect.

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY MOTOR VEHICLES

Plug-in electric drive vehicle credit. The bill establishes a new credit for each qualified plug-in electric drive vehicle placed in service during each taxable year by a taxpayer. The base amount of the credit is $3,000. If the qualified vehicle draws propulsion from a battery with at least 5 kilowatt hours of capacity, the credit amount is increased by $200, plus another $200 for each kilowatt hour of battery capacity in excess of 5 kilowatt hours up to 15 kilowatt hours. Taxpayers may claim the full amount of the allowable credit up to the end of the first calendar quarter after the quarter in which the manufacturer records 60,000 sales. The credit is reduced in following calendar quarters. The credit is available against the alternative minimum tax (AMT). This proposal is estimated to cost $1.02 billion over 10 years.

Hybrid conversion kits. The proposal creates a 20% investment tax credit, capped at $2,500, for the cost of purchasing and installing a plug-in traction battery module used to convert a hybrid vehicle to a plug-in hybrid vehicle. The proposal expires December 31, 2010. The score for this proposal is incorporated in the score of the plug-in vehicle credit, above.

Incentives for idling reduction units and advanced insulation for heavy trucks. The bill provides an exemption from the heavy vehicle excise tax for the cost of idling reduction units, such as auxiliary power units (APUs), which are designed to eliminate the need for truck engine idling (e.g., to provide heating, air conditioning, or electricity) at vehicle rest stops or other temporary parking locations. The bill would also exempt the installation of advanced insulation, which can reduce the need for energy consumption by transportation vehicles carrying refrigerated cargo. Both of these exemptions are intended to reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector. This proposal is estimated to cost $77 million over 10 years.

OTHER TRANSPORTATION PROVISIONS

Restructuring of New York Liberty Zone tax credits. The bill would implement a proposal included in the President’s FY 2008 Budget to provide the City of New York and the State of New York with tax credits for expenditures made for transportation infrastructure projects connecting with the New York Liberty Zone. This proposal is estimated to cost $1.106 billion over 10 years.

Fringe benefit for bicycle commuters. The bill allows employers to provide employees that commute to work using a bicycle limited fringe benefits to offset the costs of such commuting (e.g., bicycle storage). This proposal is estimated to cost $10 million over 10 years.

III. ENERGY CONSERVATION AND EFFICIENCY

CONSERVATION TAX CREDIT BONDS

Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds. The bill creates a new category of tax credit bonds for green community programs and initiatives designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is a national limitation of $3 billion which is allocated to States and municipalities. This proposal is estimated to cost $864 million over 10 years. Qualified Forestry Conservation Bonds. The bill creates a new category of tax credit bonds for qualified forestry projects designed to acquire land subject to native fish habitat conservation plans for conservation purposes. This proposal is estimated to cost $161 million over 10 years.

EFFICIENCY

Extension and modification of credit for energy-efficiency improvements to existing homes. The bill extends the tax credits for energy-efficient existing homes for one year (through December 31, 2008) and includes energy-efficient biomass fuel stoves as a new class of energy-efficient property eligible for a consumer tax credit of $300. This proposal is estimated to cost $402 million over 10 years. Extension of energy-efficient commercial buildings. The bill extends the energy-efficient commercial buildings deduction for five years (through December 31, 2013). This proposal is estimated to cost $901 million over 10 years.

Modification and extension of energy-efficient appliance credit. The bill would modify the existing energy-efficient appliance credit and extend this credit for three years (through the end of 2010). This proposal is estimated to cost $344 million over 10 years. Seven-year depreciation for smart meters. The bill would allow electric utilities to depreciate smart electric meters over a seven-year period. This proposal is estimated to cost $1.02 billion over 10 years.

IV. OTHER PROVISIONS

FORESTRY PROVISIONS

One-year enactment of the Timber Revitalization and Economic Enhancement (TREE) Act of 2007. The bill would enact for one-year the provisions of H.R. 1937 and S. 402 to provide a deduction for qualified timber gains and to modernize certain provisions applicable to timber real estate investment trusts (REITs). This proposal is estimated to cost $435 million over 10 years.

OTHER

Income averaging for Exxon Valdez litigation amounts. The bill would allow commercial fishermen and other individuals whose livelihoods were negatively impacted by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill to average any settlement or judgment-related income that they receive in connection with pending litigation in the federal courts over three years for federal tax purposes. The bill would also allow these individuals to use these funds to make contributions to retirement accounts. This proposal is estimated to cost $215 million over 10 years.

Reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 and Payment in Lieu of Taxes. The bill would reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools program through 2011. It also adjusts the funding distribution formula to take into account historic payment levels to counties, average income levels in counties and acreage of federal land. Finally, the provision also provides for full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program for 2009. This proposal is estimated to cost $1.863 billion over 10 years.

Offset the cost of increasing the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. The bill would offset the revenue loss associated with the increase in the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. The cost of increasing the CAFE standards has been estimated to cost $2.114 billion over 10 years.

V. REVENUE PROVISIONS

Modification to Section 199. The proposal excludes gross receipts of major integrated oil companies derived from the sale, exchange or other disposition of oil, natural gas, or any primary product thereof from the domestic production deduction for purposes of Section 199. Primary products do not include petrochemicals, medicinal products, insecticides, and alcohols. The proposal is estimated to raise $9.433 billion over 10 years.

7-year amortization of geological and geophysical expenditures for certain major integrated oil companies. The bill increases the amortization period for geological and geophysical expenditures (G&G costs) from five years to seven years for large integrated oil companies. This proposal is estimated to raise $103 million over 10 years. Clarification of foreign oil and gas extraction income. The tax code limits the ability of oil and gas companies to claim foreign tax credits with respect to foreign oil and gas extraction income. The bill would expand the present-law foreign oil and gas extraction income rules to apply to all foreign income from production and other activity related to the sale of oil and gas. This proposal is estimated to raise $3.187 billion over 10 years.

Modification of penalty for failure to file partnership returns. Currently, a penalty is imposed on partnerships that fail to timely file a return. The penalty amount is computed for each month the return is outstanding (not to exceed 5 months) and $50 multiplied by the number of partners. The proposal increases the maximum number of months from 5 to 12 and increases the multiple from $50 to $100. The proposal applies to returns filed after the date of enactment. The proposal raises $655 million over ten years. Interest suspension. The Internal Revenue Code suspends the accrual of certain penalties and interest starting 22 months after the filing of the tax return if the IRS has not sent the taxpayer a notice specifically stating the taxpayer’s liability and the basis for the liability within the specified period. The proposal repeals the suspension of certain penalties and interest. The proposal is estimated to raise $128 million over ten years.

Option to treat elective deferrals as after tax contributions. Governmental section 457(b) plans may include a qualified Roth contribution program under which plan participants are permitted to designate elective deferrals that could be otherwise deferred under the plan as Roth contributions subject to the present-law rules. Such a designated Roth contribution is includible in gross income in the year of deferral and a subsequent distribution of such contribution (and the income on such contributions) is excluded from gross income if the distribution is a qualified distribution. The proposal is effective for taxable years after December 31, 2007. The proposal is estimated to raise $1.035 billion over ten years.

REVENUE PROVISIONS IN THE PRESIDENT’S FY 2008 BUDGET

Basis reporting by brokers on sales of stock. The bill creates mandatory cost basis reporting by brokers for transactions involving publicly traded securities. Covered securities are generally stock, debt, commodities, derivatives and other items as specified by the Treasury Secretary, which are acquired in the account or transferred to the account managed by the broker. The President’s FY 2008 Budget recommends that Congress require basis reporting on security sales. The Treasury Department explains that this proposal is necessary because “compliance increases significantly for amounts that a third party reports to the IRS. The potential for non-compliance on sales of securities is considerable under current law, because the taxpayer’s basis is not reported to the IRS. Requiring brokers to maintain records of the adjusted basis of securities sold by their customers and report this information to the IRS would increase compliance with capital gains reporting. In addition, such a requirement would provide significant simplification benefits by relieving taxpayers from the often complicated task of calculating adjusted basis to determine gain or loss on the sale of securities.” The provision applies to stock acquired after January 1, 2009 and after January 1, 2011 for all other instruments. This proposal is estimated to raise $4.106 billion over 10 years.

Extend FUTA taxes for one year. The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (“FUTA”) imposes a 6.2 percent gross tax rate on the first $7,000 paid annually by covered employers to each employee. In 1976, Congress passed a temporary surtax of 0.2 percent of taxable wages to be added to the permanent FUTA tax rate. The temporary surtax subsequently has been extended through 2007. The President’s FY 2008 Budget proposes extending the FUTA surtax. The Treasury Department states that “extending the surtax will support the continued solvency of the Federal unemployment trust funds and maintain the ability of the unemployment system to adjust to any economic downturns.” The bill would enact the President’s proposal for one year (through 2008). This provision is estimated to raise $1.446 billion over 10 years.

Cloture vote on H.R. 6, Energy Independence and Security Act and Debate on Farm Bill

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 07 Dec 2007 14:00:00 GMT

A roll call vote is expected at about 9:20 am on the motion to invoke cloture on the energy bill as passed by the House of Representatives on December 6.

By a vote of of 53-42 the cloture motion failed.

The following Democrats voted against cloture:
  • Bayh (D-IN)
  • Byrd (D-WV)
  • Landrieu (D-LA)
The following Republicans voted for cloture:
  • Coleman (R-MN)
  • Collins (R-ME)
  • Smith (R-OR)
  • Snowe (R-ME)
  • Thune (R-SD)
The following Republicans voted against cloture but previously had voted for the earlier Senate version of H.R. 6, which included the CAFE standard, but not RES or the tax title:
  • Corker (R-TN)
  • Craig (R-ID)
  • Crapo (R-ID)
  • Domenici (R-NM)
  • Ensign (R-NV)
  • Lugar (R-IN)
  • Sessions (R-AL)
  • Specter (R-PA)
  • Stevens (R-AK)
  • Sununu (R-NH)
The following Republicans voted against cloture but previously had voted for energy tax provisions similar to those in the House version:
  • Crapo (R-ID)
  • Lugar (R-IN)
  • Grassley (R-IA)
  • Roberts (R-KS)

Following the vote, the chamber resumed consideration of the farm bill (HR 2419).

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