For those of you who might be wondering just what the heck happened this week in the Senate, where they voted in favor of ethanol before they voted against it and then for it again, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen offers some insight in a post on The E-xchange blog.
Dinneen explains that the vote Tuesday to defeat the Coburn amendment to end the ethanol blenders tax credit (VEETC) was more about the way the Oklahoma Republican went about getting a vote by filing for cloture, which is normally done on a bill, not an amendment, and is a privilege of the leadership. “In any case, the vote on the Coburn amendment Tuesday was certainly not about fiscal responsibility,” Dinneen says. “That fact was made clear when it was revealed every one of the 16 Senators signing the cloture petition had voted just a month earlier to preserve tax breaks for oil companies. (Also interesting, those senators supporting the Coburn amendment received more than $24 million in campaign contributions from lobbies opposed to renewable fuels.)”
On the other hand, Dinneen believes the motivation for passing the same amendment put forth by Sen. Dianne Feinstein two days later was about the growing battle over the debt ceiling and budget cuts. “For many Democrats, the vote on the Feinstein amendment was an opportunity to get Republicans on record as supporting the repeal of tax incentives (i.e., oil company subsidies) and raising taxes as a means of deficit reduction. In fact, following the vote Senate Leader Harry Reid stated, “With Republicans endorsing our position that we can cut the deficit by cutting spending that occurs through the tax code, I hope they will join Democrats in eliminating taxpayer giveaways to big oil companies that are raking in record profits.”
Dinneen expects to see Senate action on oil company tax breaks to come up again soon.