LAST week, the full Senate began consideration of its tax extenders package, which the Senate Finance Committee passed in April, but the bipartisan bill turned partisan when amendments were limited during floor debate.
The package includes a two-year extension of the $1/gal. biodiesel tax incentive and reinstatement of the pre-2014 expensing amounts for farm infrastructure and equipment under Section 179.
Since revenue measures must originate in the House, the Senate must attach the tax extenders package to a bill that came from the House. The first procedural motion passed easily earlier in the week to allow the Senate to begin debate on House bill H.R. 3474, which would be the vehicle for the Senate tax extenders bill (S. 2260).
The bill passed out of committee unanimously, but Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) blocked Republican amendments, and the 53-40 vote on May 15 failed to close debate on the bill.
The American Soybean Assn. (ASA) reported that efforts by some senators who oppose the measure or wish to offer amendments continue to pose a threat to the bill going forward.
One dispute centers on whether the cost of extending the tax credits should be offset with either funding cuts or by increasing revenues elsewhere. Procedural battles have stalled the Senate on other measures as well as senators seek to offer and vote on amendments addressing contentious and often unrelated issues.
The biodiesel tax credit expired on Dec. 31, 2013, and the biodiesel industry's production has stalled in the absence of this tax credit, ASA said.
The reinstatement of Section 179 expensing at previous levels would enable farmers and other small business owners to expense investments made in new technology, equipment and infrastructure in their operations.
"Given the land-based and capital-intensive nature of farming, not to mention the ever-advancing technology we need to farm sustainably and competitively, this program helps us stay on the cutting edge of our industry," ASA noted.
In the other chamber, House Ways & Means Committee chair Dave Camp (R., Mich.) is planning to address tax extenders individually rather than as a package. Under this process, the fate of the biodiesel tax credit is uncertain.