Baucus ‘encouraged’ by extenders talks; details still in flux

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Senate’s top tax writer emerged from a closed-door session last night “very encouraged” that lawmakers would be able to agree on a package to extend a variety of temporary tax breaks that expired last year or are set to do so this year, although the contents of such a package and timing to get it to the floor remain in flux.

Among the pieces that could be included in a “tax extenders” deal is the production tax credit for wind energy, which the industry has said is vital to its continued growth and will result in more layoffs without a quick extension. The credit is set to expire Dec. 31, but some companies in the wind industry already are laying off workers as orders dry up amid questions over whether it will continue; 37,000 jobs hinge on the credit continuing, according to a study commissioned earlier this year by the American Wind Energy Association.

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) told reporters after huddling with committee members that there has been “a lot of progress” and he is “very encouraged” by the tenor of the talks. While he declined to predict whether a package could come to the floor before the election or the end of this year, Baucus said he sensed a desire among members to move an extenders package and said they would continue to meet in an effort to reach an agreement.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the minority whip, said the committee has not delved much into specific incentives but that the goal was to get a package to the floor before November. “The hope is that we could actually get an extenders package to the floor before the election,” he said after exiting the meeting.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who wrote the first production tax credit bill in 1992, said the credit was one of several specific extenders discussed during the meeting, although he said nothing concrete was agreed to.

“If you were in there, let me tell you what you would’ve heard. … You would’ve heard the same thing four or five times and the same people talk on each side of the issue,” Grassley told E&E Daily after the meeting.

But, he added, “Just the fact that we’re talking is making some progress.”