Carper Votes to Approve Omnibus, Tax Extenders

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued the following statement after voting to approve a legislative package that includes measures to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year and extend tax provisions that were set to expire at the end of this month.

“I am very pleased that the omnibus spending bill we approved today is consistent with the budget we’ve already adopted, and it’s a thoughtful balance of spending between our domestic and defense programs that honors our country’s values and principles. This legislative package, however, is extraordinarily large, and it combines policies that have diverse impacts not only on the federal government, but also our economy as a whole. While there are some serious shortcomings, ultimately, I believe the good outweighed the bad and therefore I voted to send it to President Obama for his signature.

As the top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I’m pleased with the spending allocations for our Committee’s priorities, especially the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Our national security is a paramount priority for our country, and this funding will better equip and enable the more than 200,000 men and women who work at DHS to better serve and secure our nation. This funding is a win for homeland security, and that’s a win that all Americans can celebrate.   

“I’m especially proud to have worked on the Cybersecurity Act of 2015. This legislation which would facilitate the sharing of cyber threat information among and between the private sector and federal government and authorize key cyber defense programs at the Department of Homeland Security, such as the cyber intrusion and detection system known as EINSTEIN, while maintaining privacy protections. Overall, this measure, which is the reflection of bipartisan collaboration and compromise, will strengthen our nation’s defenses online and help federal agencies, businesses and consumers better protect themselves against the evolving cyber threats of the twenty-first century.

“Funding included to support the consolidation of the Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters at the St. Elizabeths campus will help the Department build a sense of cohesion across its many offices, build employee morale, and save taxpayer dollars in the long run.  This measure also directs spending of up to $750 million to address what I believe to be the root causes of the surge of migrants we’ve seen along our southern border: the violence, corruption, and lack of economic opportunities in the nations of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. While this money will not by itself solve the complicated, longstanding problems these countries face, it is an important part of our responsibility to help the governments of the Northern Triangle continue to make progress in improvements. 

“The permanent tax extensions approved as part of this package put a responsible end to the inefficient stop-and-go policy we’ve employed over the last number of years. Families and businesses need tax certainty and predictability in order to make smart financial decisions, and extending tax credits for two years at a time made that very difficult. This legislation will extend and incentivize investments in research and development and clean energy technology, which are critical to creating green jobs and modernizing our economy to compete and win in the global marketplace.

“The package also includes a permanent extension of an increased Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), which will put more after-tax dollars in the hands of low and middle class families who need them the most. While these responsible changes aren’t inexpensive, it’s important to remember there is an even higher demand, and higher reward. Ultimately, this package will do a lot of good for American families and businesses, and will help grow our domestic economy.

“As with any legislative package of this extraordinary size, it’s important not only to celebrate the victories, but also to recognize the areas where we fell short and commit ourselves to making important corrections in the future. Among those shortcomings is a drafting error that resulted in the long-term extension of the investment tax credits for solar energy, but not for several other clean energy technologies like stationary fuel cells.  An extension of these tax credits is critical to getting these nascent industries off the ground in Delaware and across America. I’m disappointed and discouraged that the error occurred.  To voice my grievances, I filed an amendment with Senator Coons and 17 of our colleagues that would fix it.  While the amendment was not included in the legislation that passed the Senate today, leadership on both sides of the aisle recognize this as an error and I have commitments that we will be able to correct this issue early next year. 

“I am also deeply concerned about the impact of lifting the oil export ban on our independent oil refiners, who employ thousands of hardworking, middle class Americans. These refineries provide transportation fuels and home heating oil for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American families. Lifting the ban on domestic crude oil exports will result in a $30 billion windfall each year to oil producers, and put our domestic oil refiners at an economic disadvantage with their foreign competitors who enjoy lax environmental rules and regulations.

“I was joined by many of my colleagues to fight long and hard to keep from opening up our domestic oil market to volatile global forces, something I believe could put our consumers, economy, environment, and energy security at risk, but in the end we did not prevail. There was a small victory in the expansion of a tax provision to help our independent, domestic refineries pay less for some of their transportation costs, but I know our work on this issue is not finished. I will continue my efforts to help preserve the middle-class manufacturing jobs supported by these refineries not only in Delaware and along the Northeast Corridor, but also around the country.

“Finally, I’m also discouraged by the delay of Affordable Care Act taxes that would support the continued implementation of the health care reform law that is already changing the lives of millions of Americans for the better. Health care costs are rising at the lowest rate in modern history and millions of Americans have high-quality health insurance for the first time. We should be doing everything we can to continue this important progress, not making attempts to undermine it. I am hopeful that when we return to work in January, my colleagues and I will move forward together to improve the law and continue strengthening our country’s health care system.”