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Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008 - Motion to Proceed - Continued

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


RENEWABLE ENERGY AND JOB CREATION ACT OF 2008--MOTION TO PROCEED--Continued -- (Senate - June 17, 2008)

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Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I have sought recognition to discuss my vote against cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 6049, the Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008.

H.R. 6049 would revive important tax provisions that expired at the end of 2007 and extend provisions that are set to expire at the end of 2008. I support extension of the R&D tax credit, teacher expenses deduction, tuition deduction, accelerated depreciation for leasehold and restaurant improvements, the renewable energy tax incentives, and many other important provisions in this package.

In addition, the bill includes a provision that I introduced, S. 814, which would allow attorneys to deduct reimbursable court costs and expenses in the same tax period in which they are paid or incurred. I strongly support this provision and have urged Chairman BAUCUS and Ranking Member GRASSLEY to include it in this bill.

While the House bill, H.R. 6049, does not address the alternative minimum tax, AMT, it is my understanding that a Baucus substitute amendment will include a 1-year AMT ``patch,'' without offsets, to prevent millions of additional taxpayers from being hit by the AMT as a result of bracket creep. I support the AMT ``patch'' so long as it is not used as an excuse to raise taxes elsewhere by adding offsets. The AMT revenues on millions of taxpayers were never intended to be collected.

Despite the positive elements of this legislation, there are still significant issues that must be addressed. The main sticking point between Democrats and Republicans is whether temporary extensions of tax relief should be offset with permanent tax increases elsewhere. Following that process year-in and year-out means that permanent tax increases must be enacted so that taxpayers can maintain the current tax structure. On April 23, 2008, I, along with 40 other Republicans, wrote to Finance Chairman BAUCUS to support ``enacting a 2008 AMT patch and extending the various expiring tax provisions without offsetting tax increases.'' It would be my preference to see the tax extenders package passed without offsets.

As it relates to the renewable energy tax incentives, it is difficult to understand why the House bill and the anticipated Baucus substitute would require offsets when the Senate has already spoken clearly on the issue. On April 10, 2008, the Senate voted 88 to 8 for an Ensign/Cantwell amendment to the Foreclosure Prevention Act to extend the renewable energy tax incentives without offsets. Pennsylvania is among the leading producers of wind energy east of the Mississippi River. The thousands of Pennsylvanians employed in the alternative energy industry and those interested in clean, renewable sources of energy for their homes are looking to Congress to provide clarity and certainty on this issue. Without immediate action, it is widely believed that investments will decline significantly throughout the second half of 2008.

On June 10, 2008, the Senate failed to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 6049 by a vote of 50 to 44. That vote, and the vote which occurred today 52 to 44, demonstrate that Senate Republicans need to be included in the process of drafting the bill. An open amendment process is important for this bill to proceed. Republican amendments must be allowed. However, an open process is threatened by the Majority Leader's standard operating procedure of ``filling the tree'' and filing cloture to cut off further amendments and debate.

On May 21, 2008, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy which states that the President's senior advisers would recommend a Presidential veto of this bill in its current form. It is my hope that in light of today's vote, leadership on both sides will work quickly to bring up this bill in a bipartisan manner that will allow the Senate to work its will and pass legislation that can be quickly signed by the President.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. By unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived.

The question is, Is it the sense of the Senate that debate on the motion to proceed to H.R. 6049, the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008, shall be brought to a close?

The yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule.

The clerk will call the roll.

The assistant legislative clerk called the roll.

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