- The chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said Wednesday that lawmakers are aware of the energy sector's opposition to critical elements of pending tax legislation, indicating they could change during a conference committee with the House of Representatives.
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said assessing the Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) provision, corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT) and nuclear production tax credits will be "clear priorities" for lawmakers in conference, though potential changes will become clearer when the Senate names its participants for the committee, expected today.
- Murkowski also said she does not know why Kevin McIntyre, the incoming chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, has not taken his seat yet at the agency. McIntyre was confirmed more than a month ago, but has yet to be sworn in.
The Senate passed its version of tax reform early Saturday morning, and some of the last-minute changes have the energy sector howling.
Renewable energy interests are concerned the BEAT provision could prevent them from monetizing tax credits for wind and solar, while a wide array of energy interests say the corporate AMT would reduce investment into research and development.
"I know both those as well as the nuclear production [tax] credit, some of the other [production tax credits] are all key priorities within the energy sector," she said. "How much is actually going to be on the table I don't think we know until we get the conference convened, but these are obviously clear priorities."
Murkowski said the members of the conference committee could become clear by the end of the day. The House on Monday named Rep. Kevin Brady (R-CA) to lead their delegation, along with GOP Reps. Devin Nunes (CA), Peter Roskam (IL), Kristi Noem (SD) and Diane Black (TN), who chairs the House Budget Committee.
"Today is our day on the floor to figure out how we get to conference," Murkowski said. "So our conferees haven't even been selected and it's my understanding that what's going to happen this afternoon is we'll have our 10 hours of debate, so I would imagine we're going to start kicking things into higher gear here either today or tomorrow."
While the energy provisions are important, Murkowski declined to say if her support for the bill depends on their status.
"I am not one to say there is a dealbreaker right now before we've even figured out who's on the conference," she said. "We want to try to get to yes."