Introduced by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), the amendment was unable to martial the 60 votes needed to end debate in the Senate, failing in a 40-in-favor, 59-against procedural vote as members of both parties joined in opposition to the measure.
Coburn, considered by most as a conservative Republican, framed the elimination of ethanol subsidies as a way to slash the nation's deficit. Coburn stated:
On Coburn's side were environmental advocates who have long questioned the ecological benefit of ethanol, claiming that it simply takes too much energy to produce the corn-based fuel.Eliminating the ethanol tax earmark and tariff would be a big step toward restoring fiscal sanity in Washington. Ethanol is bad economic policy, bad energy policy and bad environmental policy.
In opposition stood the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a group headed by conservative Grover Norquist. The ATR lobbied against the amendment on grounds that the elimination of a tax break should only be considered if it's offset by tax cuts.
The federal ethanol tax subsidy, currently at 45 cents a gallon, is set to expire on December 31, 2011. This failed amendment would have put an end to the subsidy almost immediately.