Capitol Hill Update: U.S. House Starts To Do Business

After an eventful first week of the 118th Congress, House Republicans elected Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as the next Speaker of the House.

As part of the negotiations, Speaker McCarthy agreed to certain concessions to secure the votes of more conservative members – including an agreement to place more of the conservative block on key committees.

Committee Chairs

Last week, House Republicans announced new additions to committees of importance to EMA’s priorities.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA) will chair the Energy & Commerce Committee and new members include Reps. Randy Weber (R-TX), Rick Allen (R-GA), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Russ Fulcher (R-IN), August Pfluger (R-TX), Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Kat Cammack (R-FL), and Jay Obernolte (R-CA).

The E&C Committee has primary jurisdiction over several important issues such as the RFS, bulk plants, NORA reauthorization, and more.

New members on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee have yet to be announced, though Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO) will chair the Committee. Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO) will chair the Ways & Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy reform.

Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) will chair the Financial Services Committee, which will oversee fiscal policy changes such as credit card swipe fee reform.

The House wasted little time advancing priority legislation. On Thursday, the House passed bipartisan legislation that would bar sales of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to entities affiliated with the Chinese government. 113 Democrats joined 218 Republicans to overwhelmingly pass the measure.

Congress must continue to act quickly to address much needed reforms and critical legislation.

Expiring Tax Credits

For example, the 2022 year-end omnibus bill failed to address several expiring tax provisions. Notably among these is the deduction for research and development (R&D) investment.

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the ability of businesses to immediately deduct R&D cost expired on December 31, 2021. Until the deduction is extended or made permanent, companies must amortize the costs of these investments over five years.

Many are hopeful that a deal can be made to extend the R&D deduction in exchange for an extension of the expanded child tax credit.

RFS Standard

On January 10, AFPM Senior Director of Fuels and Vehicle Policy, Patrick Kelly, testified during the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) public hearing on the proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) “Set” Rule covering years 2023-2025.

Mr. Kelly argued that the EPA’s proposed Rule is contrary to Congressional direction that EPA focus the RFS on second generation, lower carbon biofuels after 2022.

He emphasized that EPA’s proposal would stifle advanced biofuels, promote first generation biofuels beyond the market’s ability to absorb them and shift overall RFS growth away from liquid biofuels and into the power electricity sector.

In summarizing AFPM’s recommendations, Mr. Kelly stated, (1) the RFS implied conventional biofuel mandate should be based on a realistic projection of market consumption & below 15 billion gallons. (2) The total advanced biofuel volume should be based on a reasonable projection of annual consumption, which EPA has undercounted. (3) The focus of RFS should remain on liquid biofuels and not create a new program called “eRINs” will discourage investment in the biofuel sector & inappropriately charge refiners and American drivers with the cost of reducing power sector emissions. Making automakers RIN generators is a clear attempt to siphon capital away from liquid biofuels to electric vehicles.

EMA shares similar concerns and plans to submit written comments and meet with the EPA before the comment period closes next month.

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