Don’t Link NAT GAS to End-Game Policy

End-of-the-year deadlines are looming. Before Congress adjourns for the year, they must complete a number of bills, including a $1 trillion omnibus – which includes 9 appropriations bills – and the payroll tax extension. As Democrats and Republicans continue to offer competing plans for the payroll tax cut, one thing must be left out of the equation: the NAT GAS Act.

The NAT GAS Act provides subsidies for all aspects of the natural gas transportation industry; from manufacturing a vehicle, to installing refueling stations, to purchasing a natural gas-powered vehicle. The fuel itself, already significantly cheaper, would also be subsidized.  Essentially, the NAT GAS Act allows the government to partner with the industry in order to give it a “temporary” boost on their competition with gasoline-powered vehicles. And as we know in government, once a subsidy is given out, it becomes nearly impossible to repeal it.

As we mentioned before, the NAT GAS Act would not pass either house of Congress; in fact, conservative Representatives have been removing themselves from the bill at a historic rate.  So, the only way for this bill to get on the President’s desk, is to hide it. And many observers think that is exactly what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is planning to do, either in the $1 trillion omnibus or in the payroll tax bill.

The latter makes sense from a negotiating standpoint. Senator Reid will be trying to trade some of his policy priorities (i.e., NAT GAS Act) for some of Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) policy priorities (i.e., Keystone pipeline). Proponents will push it at the last minute and hope that no one notices due to the “must pass” deadline before Christmas.

We repeat: the NAT GAS Act must not be included in any end-of-the-year package. Senator Reid has taken absolutely no action to move the bill through the Senate. Hiding this bill, or adding it as a “sweetener” to a payroll tax cut bill is unacceptable. Not only will it hurt the private sector, but also continue the narrative that Congress must pass a bill so that we can find out what’s in it.

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