Axne: U.S. House to include $1 billion for biofuels in budget bill

Source: By KATIE AKIN, Iowa Capital Dispatch • Posted: Thursday, September 9, 2021

The U.S. House will include $1 billion in biofuels funding in its initial draft of the budget bill, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne said Wednesday.

“With the right infrastructure investments, we can quickly expand the availability of this low carbon fuel across the U.S.,” Axne, D-3rd District, said in a news release. “To fight climate change, we can’t just keep arguing over what one policy is best to cut emissions. We need to use every tool in our toolbelt — both renewables and electric — to meet the challenge we’re facing.”

The proposed funding is part of a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill working through the House. If passed, $1 billion would go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be used as grants to expand and upgrade biofuel infrastructure and to increase the usage of higher ethanol and diesel blends.

In visits to Iowa this summer, Axne criticized the bipartisan infrastructure bill — a separate piece of legislation that was significantly pared down to win Republican support — for its lack of biofuels funding.

President Joe Biden has set an agenda centered primarily around electric vehicles, including a goal that half of all new cars in 2030 be electric. Iowa’s representatives have pushed back against those goals, arguing that biofuels are a near-term solution for cleaner energy. Iowa is the nation’s top producer of ethanol.

“If we’re going to drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels quickly, we can’t just rely on energy technologies that are still years away from being available in our rural areas,” Axne said Wednesday. “That’s where renewable fuels come in.”

What comes next for the reconciliation bill?

There’s still a long road ahead for the budget bill, which has not garnered bipartisan support. Over the next month, the House and Senate Democrats will work to agree on a package. Then, the bill will need to pass both chambers, likely utilizing reconciliation in the Senate to allow the legislation to pass without any Republican support.

Some Democrats have remained wary of the spending package, which may cost as much as $3.5 trillion. Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said last week he wanted to slow down discussions and decrease the price of the package.

Axne said Wednesday that she would not decide her vote on the budget bill until after negotiations ended.

“While I will still withhold my final decision on this package until I see the full bill, seeing these investments included will be a critical part of my choice,” she said.