Biodiesel tax incentive stalls again in the Senate

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, June 18 – A trimmed down package of unemployment benefits, state aid and tax extensions, including a retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax credit, once again failed to win enough votes in the U.S. Senate Thursday night. Democrats gained only 56 of the 60 votes needed to advance. Expressing concern over the impact on the federal deficit, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) voted with all GOP senators to reject the measure.

GOP Senators say they support much of the package but object to the way it is being paid for.

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the latest version advanced by Democratic leaders would add another $50 billion dollars to the debt.

“And they’re calling this an accomplishment — an accomplishment they reached not by making any tough choices, but by shortening the length of time they’d pay for programs they know they’ll end up extending anyway.

An alternative amendment by Sen. John Thune was also rejected, 41 to 57. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), his amendment would have cut taxes by $26 billion, cut spending by over $100 billion, and reduced the deficit by $68 billion.

The Senate leadership may try again today to see if further modifications can attract moderate Democrats and GOP votes. After failing to advance the measure on Wednesday, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) reduced the cost of the bill from $140 billion to $118 billion by shrinking unemployment checks and shortening to six months from 19 months a provision that would prevent a deep cut in Medicare reimbursement rates to doctors.

Baucus also raised the bill’s per-barrel tax on oil and softened tax provisions that would affect certain small businesses, as well as the “carried interest” earned by real estate investors, venture capitalists and private equity managers.

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