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Top Democrat says he'll push to address fossil fuel tax breaks in spending bill

The Hill logo The Hill 9/22/2021 Rachel Frazin
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) addresses reporters after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. © Greg Nash Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) addresses reporters after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, September 21, 2021.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said Wednesday that he's pushing for legislation to address fossil fuel tax breaks to be included in Democrats' $3.5 trillion spending bill.

"President Biden, to his credit, in the campaign, said that there should not be special tax breaks - his words, not mine - for fossil fuels. Clean Energy for America meets that campaign pledge," he told reporters, referring to a bill advanced by his committee.

"We're going to push for it in the reconciliation bill as well," he added during a press conference.

Such provisions have not been included in the House version of the reconciliation bill - sparking criticism from some progressives.

During Wednesday's press conference, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said the eventual Democratic bill "may well have" provisions like a carbon tax to encourage the transition to clean energy.


Video: Democrats debate potential tax hikes for spending bill (CNBC)

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"Will any of these be in it? Well, we will see, but I wanted to mention that they are part of the conversation at this point," he said, also referring to a methane fee and a carbon border fee.

But, the future of the entire reconciliation package remains uncertain amid doubts from moderates in the caucus, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), over the price tag. Democrats can't lose any votes in the Senate given the 50-50 split and the unified GOP opposition to the spending package, which contains much of President Biden's domestic agenda.

Manchin has raised concerns about the cost of the bill as well as a provision in which utilities would be paid to switch their power to clean sources.

Asked about Manchin's remarks, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Wednesday said lawmakers are making the climate case to all of their fellow Democrats.

"The inaction is not something we can tolerate, or live with, or wait another year. We are making that case to every member of our caucus," she said.

Updated at 6:42 p.m.

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