Grassley urges White House to help farmers in year-end tax talks

Grassley urges White House to help farmers in year-end tax talks
© Greg Nash
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyExpanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support Grassley, Leahy urge Roberts to permanently air Supreme Court arguments Democrats broaden probe into firing of State Department watchdog MORE (R-Iowa) on Saturday expressed concerns about "rumors" regarding discussions between Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US Judd Gregg: Biden — a path to the presidency, or not Trump asserts his power over Republicans MORE (D-Calif.) and the White House on tax policy, worrying that a potential agreement could be harmful to farmers.

"Rumors going around abt negotiations going on between Pelosi Mnuchin and White House on tax policy that detrimental to farmers that this Chr of Finance has not had input The President loves farmers and I remind Mnuchin of that," Grassley said in a Tweet directed to President TrumpDonald John TrumpFauci says his meetings with Trump have 'dramatically decreased' McEnany criticizes DC mayor for not imposing earlier curfew amid protests Stopping Israel's annexation is a US national security interest MORE.

Democrats and Republicans have been negotiating over a potential year-end tax package that could be included in government-funding legislation. Industry groups are hoping that most of their priorities can be included in a package, including the extension of expired and expiring clean energy tax breaks known as "extenders," a bipartisan retirement bill that passed the House earlier this year and the repeal or delay of ObamaCare taxes. 

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But Democrats and Republicans have some differing priorities, and it's unclear if they will reach an agreement and how expansive an agreement would be.

Grassley spokesman Michael Zona said he can't speak to ongoing negotiations, but indicated that extending the biodiesel tax credit is important for the Iowa senator. The tax credit expired at the end of 2017.

"Chairman Grassley has been leading bicameral negotiations on tax extenders and is working to make sure they are included in the year-end appropriations package. Biodiesel plants across Iowa are hurting and two have already closed because Congress has failed to provide certainty in the tax code," Zona said. "Farmers, biodiesel producers and rural communities across the Midwest are depending on Congress to act responsibly. Dropping tax extenders like biodiesel would be a major setback and may push more plants that employ thousands of Americans toward bankruptcy." 

A senior Democratic aide close to the tax talks said that discussions have restarted at the insistence of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and that Republicans have been an obstacle.

“This should be easy to get done, but Republicans previously refused to even consider including a renewable energy tax credits package, despite the Senate Finance Chairman publicly claiming to also want biodiesel and wind,” the Democratic aide said.