By December 16, 2015 Read More →

Crude export ban lifted as part of tax and spending package

Crude export ban lift a long-sought Republican goal

crude export ban

Environmentalists say lifting the US crude export ban will be a giant windfall for the oil industry.  Photo by Zachary Strain courtesy The Daily Texan.

WASHINGTON _ Congressional leaders and the White House have reached agreement on a massive year-end tax and spending package, House Speaker Paul Ryan told Republican lawmakers late Tuesday, urging support for the legislation that delivers wins for his party but also includes many Democratic priorities.

The package would fund the government through the 2016 budget year, raise domestic and defence spending, and increase the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars by extending numerous popular tax credits without paying for them. It lifts the 40-year-old ban on exporting U.S. crude oil, a long-sought Republican goal, and delays two taxes meant to pay for President Barack Obama’s health care law, one on high-value health insurance plans and the other on medical devices.

Democrats won five-year extensions of wind and solar credits and a permanent extension of the child care tax credit, and beat back many Republican attempts to add favoured policy provisions to the bill, including several aimed at rolling back Obama environmental regulations.

“This is divided government,” Republican Rep. John Kline said coming out of the meeting. “If you’re going to move forward and follow Speaker Ryan’s notion that we move onto offence next year … Let’s put 2015 behind us and move onto 2016.”

Ryan “said that in a divided government you’re going to have some concessions, that’s what compromise is about,” added Republican Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin. “And to get the good things that we felt we needed that meant the Democrats were going to get some of the things they wanted.”

Democratic aides cautioned final language was still being worked out.

Republican leaders predicted the package would come to a vote in the House and Senate on Thursday, allowing lawmakers to head home for the holidays having completed their needed tasks. First they will have to pass yet another short-term government funding extension, since the current one runs out Wednesday at midnight.

“In negotiations like this you win some, you lose some,” Ryan said earlier in the day at an event hosted by Politico. “Democrats won some, they lost some. We won some, we lost some.”

Eleventh-hour negotiations twisted and turned on the mammoth deal pairing the $1.1 trillion spending legislation with a giant tax bill catering to any number of special interests. The deal, Congress’ last major piece of unfinished business for the year, became the vehicle for countless long-sought priorities and odds and ends, including reform of visa-free travel to the U.S., renewable energy tax credits and health benefits for 9-11 first responders.

Democrats, despite their minority party status in Congress, exacted a steep price in the negotiations, thanks to President Barack Obama’s veto pen and Republicans’ need for their votes on the spending bill.

“We may not be in the majority but we’re feeling that these goals are on track,” boasted Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer.

The final package ignored conservative demands for language clamping down on Syrian refugees entering the U.S. Instead it contains changes tightening up the “visa waiver” program that allows visa-free travel to the U.S. for citizens of 38 countries, including France and Belgium, where many of last month’s Paris attackers were from.

From the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest sounded resigned to Obama signing a bill lifting the crude oil export ban despite previous threats to veto the measure as stand-alone legislation. The export ban was imposed during energy shortages of the 1970s but has been declared outdated by industry allies. Environmentalists say lifting it would amount to a giant windfall for the oil industry.

The Canadian Press


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