Thursday afternoon the U.S. Senate voted to end the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit – but voted for biofuels infrastructure programs. The first amendment – written by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Tom Coburn would repeal the incentive for domestically-produced ethanol and the ethanol import tariff. The second amendment – offered by Senator McCain – would have prohibited USDA from using funds for the installation of blender pumps. The bill to stop VEETC funds was approved 73 to 27 – while the vote to stop the installation of blender pumps was rejected 41 to 59.
Senator Chuck Grassley predicts the VEETC amendment stands little chance of being enacted – stating on the Senate floor that the bill is not likely to be taken up by the House. Since the Constitution requires that revenue measures originate in the House – Grassley says the bill – with these amendments – is dead on arrival. As a result – he called the votes a fruitless exercise.
Meanwhile – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the Administration supports efforts currently underway in the Senate to reform and modernize tax incentives and other programs that support biofuels. However – he said the amendments voted on Thursday were not reforms and were ill advised. According to Vilsack – they could lead to job loss and pull the rug out from under the industry – which will lead to less choice for consumers and greater dependence on foreign oil.