Congressional Update: Sen. Manchin No Vote On Build Back Better Budget, Biofuels Proposal Floated
President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) acknowledged last week that the Senate does not have the votes to approve the House-passed $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act (BBB) before Christmas.
Then, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) told Fox News on Sunday morning that after five-and-half months of negotiations among Democrats in which he was his party’s chief obstacle to passage, “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything humanly possible. I can’t get there.”
The Associated Press reported Sen. Manchin’s choice of words seemed to crack the door open to continued talks with Biden and top congressional Democrats over reshaping the legislation. But the West Virginia senator all but said the bill would die unless it met his demands for a smaller, less sweeping package — something that would be hard for many Democrats in the narrowly divided Congress to accept. Read more here.
Senator Manchin believes that many of the programs cost far more than the White House has argued.
He is also seeking changes to the proposed electric vehicle (EV) tax credit. He wants the income threshold to be lowered and wants to strike the provision that grants union-built EVs more favorable tax treatment.
Other Senators have concerns with various tax provisions, including the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction.
In other news, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced bipartisan Midwest lawmaker legislation to prohibit the EPA from reducing the minimum applicable volume of biofuels into transportation fuel once the RVO levels are finalized for any given year.
This comes after the EPA last week proposed to retroactively reduce 2020 and 2021 RVO levels due to lower demand for transportation fuels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other cosponsors include Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), and a House companion bill was introduced by Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN), Ron Kind (D-WI), Rodney Davis (R-IL), and Ashley Hinson (R-IA).
EMA has for many years called for lower annual corn ethanol blending volumes that would allow marketers to determine for themselves whether to sell E15 rather than be required to do so through a de facto mandate.
EMA sent multiple letters to the EPA and the National Economic Council this year requesting urgent action to reduce the corn ethanol mandate to address the current E15 crisis.