The 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump on March 23 restores funding – in full – for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Title 17 Loan Guarantee Program.
The small group of lobbyists who worked on this with us still are in shock. It almost is unheard of to get 100% of what you ask for when lobbying Congress. This time, we did.
Undoing what had been done last July when we began making visits to U.S. House and Senate offices was a long shot. A very long shot. It seemed like an impossibility to restore the Title 17 funding that had been rescinded in the 2018 appropriations bills – and which threatened to end the Title 17 loan guarantee program on September 30 at the end of the 2017 fiscal year.
But action had to be taken. No matter what. Even if it was a Hail Mary.
The situation was particularly challenging because the House and the Senate appropriations committees had used a credit that was obtained by rescinding the Title 17 loan authority (1% of $40 billion, or $400 million) to fund other priorities. There was no money left in the 2018 budget allocations to restore Title 17 funding.
ADE’s chief lobbyist has had many successes in the 35 years that he has lobbied Congress. But nothing ever has come close to being this complete.
We knew we had a chance at the beginning of September when language was released for the Continuing Resolution (CR), which was necessary to fund the government after September 30 since Congress had not yet passed its FY2018 spending bills for federal agencies. The senior majority staff member on the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee – with whom we had met with one week previously – had inserted a parenthetical phrase in the CR drawing specific attention to the Department of Energy loan guarantee and direct loan programs. The language stated that these programs were to be continued at their 2017 funding levels.
Life had been breathed back into the Title 17 program past September 30.
We joined forces with another group working to restore funding for Title 17, an ad hoc loan guarantee coalition co-chaired by Taite McDonald of Holland Knight and Mark Riedy of Kilpatrick Townsend. The coalition is made up of several companies that are pursuing (or representing companies that are pursuing) Title 17 loan guarantees, as well as several of the people who were instrumental in the development of the Title 17 program, both before and during the Bush Administration, and who assisted in its implementation.
As time went on and we made regular visits to Capitol Hill -- coupled with one-page handouts and short follow up emails, always pointing out and stressing one or more of the benefits of the program -- the conversations with Congressional staff slowly changed from whether funding could be restored – “it’s too late; we’ve already reallocated the money” – to how much could be restored so projects already in the pipeline could continue to move forward and not be stopped dead in their tracks.
In the end, our efforts and those of the Ad Hoc Loan Guarantee Coalition were successful – even beyond what we had dared hope.
Now work begins on ensuring the FY2019 appropriations bills continue to fund the Title 17 and ATVM programs.
Work also will start on making improvements to the Title 17 loan guarantee program. There are things that can be done to make the program more efficient, effective and responsive and to address the criticisms that many members of Congress have leveled against the program.
We hope you will join us in these efforts.
For more information on the benefits of the Title 17 program, visit our companion blog, Restoring the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Title 17 Loan Guarantee Program Will Create Jobs, Stimulate Private Sector Investment and Help Pay for Tax Cuts.