Reid blocks amendments to extenders bill
Also yesterday, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) spoke against the PTC in remarks from the Senate floor. They argued the wind industry was mature enough to survive without the credit, which was first implemented more than 20 years ago, and that it can distort energy markets.
As to arguments that not renewing the credit creates economic uncertainty, Flake argued, “If anything is unsure, we’re creating that insecurity when Congress simply goes again and again and renews it.”
Despite the criticisms, the energy credits do enjoy support from other Republican senators; that the issue splits the caucus has meant relatively little emphasis went to those provisions this week. Overall, Republicans focused their arguments more heavily on nonenergy pieces of the extenders package, and they also used this week to push for a vote on a controversial medical device tax implemented by the Affordable Care Act.
Reid’s blocking of GOP amendments to the tax extenders bill furthers a pattern that has enraged the minority party and led Republicans to block a popular energy efficiency bill earlier this week. Still, it is too soon to say whether Republicans would also block this bill, an $84 billion package of mostly popular incentives strongly supported by the business community.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking member of the Finance Committee, yesterday called for Reid to open up the bill to amendments, but he stopped short of threatening to support a filibuster. He praised the efforts of Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to allow for amendments to be considered at the committee level, but he said the rest of the chamber who are not members of the committee still deserve an opportunity to amend the bill.
“My only hope is that, now that the bill is on the floor, the Senate Democratic leadership will follow [Wyden’s] example and allow for a full and fair debate of this legislation,” Hatch said in a floor speech yesterday.
A cloture vote to formally end debate on the bill is scheduled for this afternoon; it will require 60 votes, meaning at least five Republicans will have to vote “yes” assuming all 55 members of the Democratic caucus are present and support the bill.