The bobtailed energy tax bill is expected to pass before congress adjourns, but if it dies. Congress has ready a fallback bill to give home owners a tax credit for insulating their homes.
Last August, when it appeared that the energy tax conferees might not meet again and there would be no legislation the Senate attached to a minor House-passed bill the tax credits for home insulation and solar heat that both House and Senate had passed last year as part of President Carter's energy package.
This week the House Rules Committee approved a resolution that would permit the House to take up that bill and accept a Senate amendment without the time-consuming necessity of convening another House-Senate conference to settle the differences.
Sponsors have agreed not to call up the hill until the very end of the session to give a clear field to the energy tax bill which contains the credits but has been held up by other issues.
The energy conferees agreed to give a maximum tax credit of $300 to persons who spend $2,000 or more on home insulation and $2,000 for investments of $10,0000 or more in solar-heating equipments.
The energy tax bill was sidetracked yesterday because leaders of the Senate Finance Committee were tied up on the Senate with the opening debate on the general tax-cut bill.
The Senate conferees are considered a proposal made to them Wednesday night by House conferees, who coupled the tax credits with a watered-down version of the tax on gas-guzzling cars to take effect next year.
Sen. Clifford Hansen (R-Wyo) and others want to hold out for inclusion of language redefining small "stripper" wells, which Hansen said would have the effect of removing price controls and encouraging production of between 300,000 and 500,000 barrels a day of oil from wells that otherwise would be abondoned. House conferees rejected this Senate provision.
As the natural gas pricing compromise headed for a final congressional test in the House next week, opponents made another effort to get a vote on gas separate from the rest of the energy package. They think that would provide a better chance to defeat it.
Rep. Toby Moffett (D. Conn) headed a group of at least 50 House Democrats who signed a petition forcing the call of caucus of all House Democrats this morning to act on a "sense of the caucus" resolution that the gas issue should be put to a separate House vote.
Moffett faces two major hurdles in this effort the monthly caucus has not been able to attract the majority of members required to do business for months; the party leadership opposes a separate vote and will work to prevent a qubrum from showing up or to defeat the resolution, which would have no binding effect even if it were approved.