PARKERSBURG - The U.S. Senate with yeas from West Virginia's two members on Thursday voted 73-27 to end the ethanol subsidies.
The action followed Tuesday's vote when the Senate 59-40 defeated for procedural reasons the amendment from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to end the subsidies. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., voted in favor and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., voted against on Tuesday, but both on Thursday both voted in favor of the amendment offered by Coburn and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
"It's blatantly irresponsible to pay for wasteful tax breaks like this ethanol subsidy," said Rockefeller, who has cosponsored bills to eliminate ethanol subsidies. "We can't get rid of this soon enough. We must end tax breaks that don't work and this subsidy has been adding to the deficit without doing anything to help Americans who are just trying to make ends meet. I support eliminating this subsidy and am glad the Senate voted to end it."
The measure would repeal by July 1 the 45-cent-a-gallon subsidy received by refiners and a 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol.
Manchin, one of a few Democrats to vote in favor on Tuesday, said ending the subsidies would reduce food costs and redirect the money to deficit reduction.
"As I made clear earlier this week, these subsidies just don't make sense, and today's vote is a victory for common sense. Families in West Virginia and across this nation are watching every penny, so I am encouraged that the Senate voted today on this measure to stop providing costly ethanol subsidies that do not even reduce gas prices and actually jack up food costs and grocery bills - it just doesn't make common sense in this tough economy," Manchin said. "We took a step toward putting our fiscal house in order at a time when this country is facing a death spiral of debt.
Manchin again said a national energy plan was needed using all resources such as natural gas, coal, wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and biofuels, but without unaffordable subsidies.
"When it comes to energy, whether it's ethanol or oil subsidies, we should consider providing government aid and creating a hard floor for subsidies only when the market price falls below production costs," he said.
The amendment to repeal the subsidy, about $6 billion a year, is connected to an economic development bill, Senate Bill 782.