Similar versions of this bill were shot down three times in the Senate.
-from Solar Nation
If you’ve been wondering what happened to the bill introduced last week by U.S. Sens. Cantwell and Ensign that would, among other measures, extend solar investment tax credits for residential and commercial use, here’s some up-to-the-minute news.
By a vote of 88-8, the Cantwell-Ensign language was successfully added as an amendment to the Senate’s comprehensive housing bill (HR 3221). This bill passed the Senate on Thursday with an estimated $6.6 billion in tax credits allocated to renewables, and including a lifting of the $2000 cap on residential solar installation credits. (You’ll find details of how your senator voted below).
This is a landmark development on Capitol Hill, since attempts to get the Senate this far have failed three times in the last year. Of course, on those occasions the initial impetus came from the House, and the stumbling block for the Senate was always the source of funding for the tax credits–reducing some of the government subsidies enjoyed by the oil and gas industry. In this case it’s a Senate-originated bill, with no identified source of funding, and that means that the problem this time around may be with the House. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), head of the Finance Committee’s Energy Sub-committee, has said that the House is unlikely to agree to the provisions without spending offsets.
Sponsors of the energy amendment and Senate leadership have started to work with Representatives and the White House to find a way out of the looming impasse. And Maria Cantwell has not dismissed the idea of paying for the incentives in a tax extenders bill.
“I’m happy to look at any vehicle that’s going to move quickly,” said the Washington Senator. “I think we have a few more weeks before these (renewable energy) projects get cancelled.”
Cantwell and her co-sponsor, John Ensign (R-NV), have argued that since the incentives would stimulate the economy, Congress should approve them without offsets. But this argument is unlikely to sway the House, so senior Finance Democrats and the Bush Administration continue to try to find an agreeable set of offsets that would allow the renewable energy credits to be included on a larger tax extenders bill.
We don’t yet know when, or in what form, the bill will be brought before the House, or what kind of fight it will face there or at the White House. But with Senate passage at least, a step that has been impossible for a year has finally been taken.
Many of you phoned or e-mailed your senators to urge them to vote for clean energy, and 88 of them did! To all of you, thanks for making your voices heard.
And now it might be a good time to thank (or spank) those senators who voted.
The eight holdout senators who voted against the Cantwell-Ensign amendment were:
Alexander (R-TN), Bunning (R-KY), Byrd (D-WV), Carper (D-DE), Dodd (D-CT), Kyl (R-AZ), Sessions (R-AL) and Voinovich (R-OH)
And the four who did not cast votes at all? They were the three presidential candidates (who may well have been otherwise occupied), and Elizabeth Dole (R-NC).
Why not TAKE ACTION NOW and send thanks ‘n’ spanks to your senator(s)? All you have to do is enter your ZIP code below and GO!