Finance Markup Statement: Open Executive Session to Consider the Miners Protection Act of 2016 and the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act of 2016

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, released the following statement on the committee’s markup of the Miners Protection Act of 2016 and the Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act of 2016.

“Mr. Chairman and Senator Wyden, let me begin by thanking you and your staff members for all of the hard work that went into crafting these two bills and for holding this markup today.

“Today we’re considering two bills. The first is a bipartisan solution to save pension and healthcare plans for coal miners. As someone who was born in West Virginia, to a family of coal miners, I know firsthand that miners take on challenging, dangerous work to ensure that our nation has the electricity we need to power our way of life. The economics of the coal industry have changed, and we have come to better understand the climate change implications of coal as a source of electricity. But that doesn’t mean that we can turn our backs on the miners and the healthcare plans and pensions they have been promised.

“I also support the second bill before us: a targeted, common-sense set of reforms designed to make saving for retirement easier.

“I think the work this Committee has done in finalizing these two bills shows that we’re making at least some progress in dealing with our country’s retirement crisis. But more work remains. I’ve filed an amendment – on which I’ll not ask for a vote today – that would create a new payroll-deposit “Automatic IRA” for employees of small businesses.

“This provision is based on a proposal in the president’s budget, which Senator Whitehouse introduced last year. I look forward to working with the chairman, the ranking member, and this committee to see if we can move this legislation forward in the near future.

“I’d like to take just a moment to raise another issue. During negotiations on the year-end tax extenders package last December, there was bipartisan agreement to extend all of the Section 48 advanced energy tax credits through the end of 2021.

“Unfortunately, due to a simple case of human error, the extension of these tax credits was accidentally excluded during the final drafting of the tax legislation. Solar and wind credits were extended as part of the agreement, but other small alternative-power technologies – such as fuel cells – were inadvertently excluded.

“This mistake was identified within hours of release of the bill text, but unfortunately due to time constraints and the desire to move expeditiously, House and Senate leaders determined that modifications to correct this mistake were not possible at the time. Instead, there was a bipartisan agreement to work together to address this mistake early in 2016.

“As you can imagine, these emerging alternative-energy companies require predictable tax credits beyond the end of 2016 for research and development, capitalization, and cash flow reasons. Delays in extending these tax credits could put hundreds of manufacturing jobs in my state and thousands of jobs across the country at risk.

“Let me say to my colleague, I know we have missed some opportunities to get this issue resolved, but I would welcome the opportunity to work with you, your staff, and other colleagues to find ways to get these advanced energy credits extended.

“I would like to thank my friend from Nevada, Senator Heller, for joining me in an amendment that addresses this issue. We will not be asking for a vote, however, we raise the issue as a reminder to our colleagues that we must act on this issue and cannot afford further delays.”