The U.S. House on Friday passed a $113 billion package of tax breaks and social spending programs with a 215 to 204 vote. The bill extends the $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit through the end of 2010. The credit expired at the end of December causing 47 biodiesel plants across the nation to be closed or idled. The legislation also includes Senator Blanche Lincoln's $1.5 billion disaster package.
The disaster package would provide an estimated $1.1 billion in supplemental payments to producers who suffered crop losses in counties declared primary disaster areas by USDA. Also included is $300 million to assist specialty crop producers, $75 million in emergency loans to poultry producers, $50 million in assistance for livestock producers, $25 million in aquaculture assistance and $42 million to aid first handlers of cottonseed.
Another part of the bill provides for an extension for employers including companies like rural electric cooperatives that are struggling to make payments to their employees' pension plans in the wake of the national economic collapse of 2008. This legislation allows more time for employers to make up those losses their pension plans suffered when the stock market plummeted.
Meanwhile Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tried to get an extension of the tax credit through the Senate Thursday night. He says an extension would likely lead to reinstating nearly 2,000 jobs in Iowa alone and thousands more across the nation. However Grassley's request was denied leaving the tax credit hanging in the Senate until after the Congressional Memorial Day break.
The Senate is expected to pick up the House's tax breaks and social spending measure after it returns June 7. Changes are expected as not everything Senators desire is in the House measure. Although Congress may eventually extend most of the expiring provisions retroactively it is likely to take several weeks to do so.