This vote was on an amendment to end federal tax incentives for energy, including a number of key renewable energy subsidies.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) proposed the amendment “to end taxpayer subsidies to energy companies that distort the energy market and hurt innovation.” The extra taxes collected would have been used to lower taxes for corporations. Sen. DeMint claimed that his amendment eliminated all energy tax subsidies, including those for fossil fuel-based energy, to create a more fair tax system.
“Folks, if we let the market work, we are going to have wind, we are going to have solar, but we are going to have it in a way that does not waste the money of hard-working taxpayers,” Sen. DeMint said. “Let's get rid of subsidies, lower the corporate tax rate, and let our country work.”
But opponents of Sen. DeMint’s amendment said it would have eliminated tax incentives only for alternative energy. In fact, most tax breaks for oil and gas companies would have remained intact, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) said. The Democratic-leaning Center for American Progress said Sen. DeMint’s amendment would leave intact the vast majority of $40 billion in subsidies for oil companies over the next decade. They compared the amendment to “removing the cherry before feeding a huge hot fudge sundae to a hog.”
Sen. DeMint’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 26-72. Voting “yea” were 26 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 53 Democrats and 19 Republicans. As a result, the Senate rejected Sen. DeMint’s attempt to eliminate tax incentives for production of energy from renewable sources.