On Wednesday, the Senate voted 98-0 to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 636, the vehicle for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act. Heritage Action will key vote against the bill if subsidies for fuel cells, geothermal and biomass are included. Those subsidies—which were little more than corporate welfare—are expired and were not included in last December's tax extenders package.
In a letter sent to Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) earlier this week, Heritage Action and 33 conservative organizations warned against including these provisions in the FAA bill:
Congress considered the matter of expiring tax provisions less than 4 months ago. The $680 billion package signed into law in December made some of these items permanent and allowed more than two dozen others to expire at the end of this past year, laying the groundwork for comprehensive tax reform. The $1.4 billion in expiring tax provisions currently under consideration—pertaining to wind power, geothermal heat pumps, fuel cell facilities and combined heat and power (CHP) properties—are a distortion of the tax laws for special interests in the renewable energy industry and were wisely left out of this package.
It should also be noted that Congress extended significantly favorable tax treatment to renewable energy in omnibus appropriation legislation that accompanied the aforementioned tax extender package. This bill included 5-year extensions of the main federal provisions for renewables, the wind production tax credit (PTC) and the solar investment tax credit (ITC), at a cost of $23.8 billion over the next decade.
On Tuesday, Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said inclusion of these expired subsidies was required before Senate Democrats would move forward on the FAA bill. According to The Hill, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) "announced during a Wednesday hearing that leaders struck an agreement on including the tax provisions in the FAA legislation."
As CQ noted, during the committee markup, Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.)—who is serving as the Senate GOP's chief negotiator for the bill—"said that the measure was designed to enact important aviation provisions while avoiding lengthy debates over more contentious issues." But now, Thune—and by extension the GOP leadership—is giving into Harry Reid and the left's corporate welfare agenda, saying:
"The things that were left out last year—there were some of them, I think, that were unintentional."
"This is what [Democrats] always viewed as the best opportunity to get some of these things that were left out of last year's extender bill. And so, we're listening to them and we're working for them."
Heritage Action will carefully review the FAA bill, and reserves the right to key vote against the bill for reasons beyond the potential inclusion of subsidies for fuel cells, geothermal and biomass.