What: All Issues : Environment : Renewable Energy : (S. 782) On a motion to end debate on an amendment that would have eliminated federal subsidies for ethanol-based gasoline (2011 senate Roll Call 89)
 Who: All Members
[POW!]
 

To find out how your Members of Congress voted on this bill, use the form on the right.

(S. 782) On a motion to end debate on an amendment that would have eliminated federal subsidies for ethanol-based gasoline
senate Roll Call 89     Jun 14, 2011
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This was a vote on a motion to end debate (known as a “cloture motion”) on an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that would have eliminated federal subsidies for ethanol-based gasoline. (At least 60 senators must vote in favor of a cloture motion in order for it to pass.)

Cloture motions, however, are generally the exclusive prerogative of the senate majority leader. In a highly unusual move, Coburn had had filed cloture on his amendment. Both supporters and opponents of ethanol subsides were caught off guard by Coburn’s actions. Some senators who supported his amendment—most notably Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)--voted against the motion to end debate because they objected to the process by which Coburn forced a vote on his proposal. Politico’s Darren Goode reported: “Feinstein tried to get Coburn to withdraw his amendment shortly before the vote, noting objections by Democratic leaders over the process by which he secured Tuesday’s vote. ‘There are real concerns about the process used to bring this amendment to the floor, and I think that has created some, unfortunately, very bad feelings which even are enough to affect people’s votes,’ Feinstein said.”

Coburn urged senators to vote to shut off debate on his amendment, and argued that Senate rules allowed any senator to file a cloture motion: “…The reason this amendment ended up the way it is, is because we don't have an open amendment process in the Senate anymore….There is no usurpation of the power of the majority leader. He gets to set what bills are on the floor. Every senator has the right to file cloture on their amendments--every senator. They also have every right to offer amendments. We would not be in this position if we did not have a closed amendment process instead of an open amendment process….I think the American people deserve to have us take this $3 billion out of the hands of the large oil companies now, not to the benefit of any American except to their detriment and their children.”

Some senators opposed Coburn’s amendment on substantive grounds. Sen. Amy Klobochar (D-MN) argued: “There is going to be a change with biofuels in this country. We are going to see a phasing out of the support for biofuels in terms of federal policy. But the time to do it is not in the middle of the year after 7 years of federal support with 5 days' notice.…I would remind my colleagues that this [ethanol] is now 10 percent of our fuel supply. There have been studies done that show the price of gasoline would escalate up to $1 more a gallon if the rug were suddenly pulled out from under this industry.”
  
The Senate rejected this motion to end debate on Coburn’s amendment by a vote of 40-59. Voting “yea” were 34 Republicans and 6 Democrats. 46 Democrats and 13 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate rejected a motion to end debate on an amendment that would have eliminated federal subsidies for ethanol-based gasoline. The Senate was expected, however, to hold another vote on eliminating ethanol subsidies within two weeks. According to Politico, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had indicated that the Senate would “hold an ethanol vote by June 24 [2011] as part of a deal with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who had initially co-sponsored Coburn’s amendment.”


Issue Areas:

Find your Member of
Congress' votes

Select by Name