2008 Scorecard Vote
A broad coalition of businesses, construction companies, environmental organizations, investors, labor groups, trade associations and utilities agree that the single most effective measure to increase the use of clean renewable energy and energy efficiency is to extend and expand the present set of clean energy tax credits that are due to expire at the end of 2008. Energy experts maintain that extending the credits could save as many as 117,000 existing jobs and generate an additional $19 billion in domestic clean energy investment.
On June 17, the Senate voted to move forward on H.R. 6049, the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008, which had passed the House on May 21 by a margin of 263-160. This bill would have extended dozens of expired or soon-to-expire tax provisions for one year, including tax credits for research, investment in solar and fuel cells, and the production tax credit for wind and other renewable energy sources. The tax credits would be offset by closing various corporate loopholes.
The majority of Senate Republicans maintained that there was no need to offset -- pay for -- extending existing tax credits, calling that move tantamount to a tax increase. In contrast, many conservative House Democrats insisted that all tax credits be fully paid for -- a position the House leadership subsequently adopted.
On June 17, the Senate fell short of the votes necessary to proceed to an up or down vote on the bill by a vote of 52-44 (Senate roll call vote 150), eight short of the required three-fifths needed to end debate. YES IS THE PRO-ENVIRONMENT VOTE.
In another in a series of Senate attempts to break the logjam over the clean energy tax package, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, crafted yet another version of the tax credits. While the package largely followed along earlier versions by extending dozens of expired or soon-to-be expiring tax provisions for one year, it also contained additional provisions for new renewable clean energy technologies such as marine and hydrokinetic and an $8 billion boost to the Highway Trust Fund. To offset the cost, the bill would change certain tax rules for stock brokers and deferred compensation, delay the foreign tax credit, and increase the estimated tax payment from certain corporations.
On July 30, this effort also failed to reach the 60 vote threshold by a vote of 51-43 (Senate roll call vote 192). YES IS THE PRO-ENVIRONMENT VOTE. Congress finally extended the tax credits in early October.