WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2016 - Lawmakers are working toward wrapping up the 114th Congress as soon as next week, and it looks as if they’ll leave town without doing anything about the expiring tax benefits for biodiesel and other biofuels but a couple of other pieces of ag-related legislation could still pass.
The $1-a-gallon tax credit for biodiesel as well as additional tax incentives for cellulosic ethanol production and alternative fuel infrastructure are scheduled to expire at the end of December.
Industry supporters have been lobbying lawmakers to include extensions of the tax measures in any year-end legislation, but some key Republicans want to see the issue put off until next year, and it appears they’ll get their way.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Tuesday that there were no plans to address the expiring measures during the lame duck session. “I don’t see anything happening to them” in the lame duck, he said.
The top priority for lawmakers is to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government until after the 115th Congress takes office in January so that Republicans can write the final spending legislation for the rest of fiscal 2017 when Donald Trump is in the White House. The CR that is currently funding the government expires Dec. 9. House and Senate leaders have been at odds about how long the next CR should last. Senate Republicans want it to run until May. The House GOP has preferred to end it in March.
In addition to a CR, Republican leaders also want to pass a water resources reauthorization bill during the lame duck, and they have not ruled out moving an energy bill as well, but the latter appears less likely. “I have not seen that one get solidified yet. It’s still a possibility,” McCarthy said Tuesday when asked about prospects for a House-Senate energy deal.
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that negotiators were making good progress on a new water projects authorization bill, and he held out hope that Congress also could pass the first major energy bill since 2007. McConnell noted that Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski is “continuing her efforts” to get an agreement on the energy legislation. It would be the first major energy bill since 2007.
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