- In one of its last actions before the holiday break, the U.S. Senate passed a short-term tax extender package that included tax credits for wind energy, Politico reports.
- While Democrats had sought a two-year extension for the tax credits, the package that passed applies only to 2014, meaning the only new effects of the bill apply for a little more than two weeks, until the end of the year. The extenders package passed 76-16.
- In a separate vote, the Senate also confirmed Collette Honorable, President Obama's nominee for a vacant spot on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, by a voice vote.
The wind industry has been on pins and needles for months, wondering if Congress would extend tax credits that have spurred its growth throughout the nation. Democratic Senate aides indicated a wind credit extension was among the party's top priorities in the lame duck session, but hope for the industry seemed lost late last month when President Obama threatened a veto of an earlier tax bill, saying it did not do enough to help working families
In the end, Politico reports that the Senate settled on a tax deal that pleased no one. The bill would prevent taxes for the included industries from going up in 2014, but would not extend past the end of the year, meaning the wind industry and others still face tax hikes in 2015.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D), the chair of the finance committee and the top tax writer in the Senate, voted against the bill.
“This tax bill doesn’t have the shelf life of a carton of eggs,” Wyden said in a floor statement ahead of the vote, according to Politico. “The only new effects of this legislation apply to the next two weeks."
Other senators held their noses and voted for the measure.
“I’d much rather have had a two-year bill so people had the certainty of planning for next year,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) told Politico. “But you have to take what you can get.”
In a separate voice vote, the Senate confirmed Collette Honorable, President Obama's nominee for a spot on FERC. While Honorable had garnered support from GOP energy leaders in the chamber, it took a 65-28 cloture vote to prevent a Republican filibuster and move on to confirmation.