September marks the end of the fiscal year and the government will shut down on the 30th unless Congress can pass a Continuing Resolution to keep it open for another few months. We are about to hit the nation’s debt ceiling. And another round of across the board sequestration cuts are about to take effect. All of this needs to be resolved as various Members try to tack defunding the Affordable Healthcare Act and Keystone Pipeline onto each of these must-pass pieces of legislation. In fact, the one piece of clean energy legislation, the Shaheen-Portman bill, incentivizing energy efficiency, has just been pulled unceremoniously off the Senate floor having been targeted with a number of these “poison pill” amendments.
Given these “perfect storm” circumstances, can anything productive happen for clean energy? Probably not until at least October, perhaps later, after the budget and debt issues have been dealt with and before the reelection cycle is in full bloom. We are still hearing that tax reform is on the table; Committee staff are working hard to determine what that will look like—and how truly reformational it will be. And, hopefully, the Senate will continue to push forward on public policies that have historically been non-partisan like energy efficiency. The House seems a more dismal prospect, but let’s not underestimate the power of momentum and throw up our arms yet.