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Coburn Forces Ethanol Vote; Snowe Comes Up Short

Sen. Tom Coburn is pulling out all the procedural stops to finally force a vote on ending a $6-billion-a-year tax break for ethanol.

The Oklahoma Republican offered his provision, which Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) blocked earlier this year, as an amendment to the economic development bill Thursday. He also maneuvered to force a procedural vote Tuesday in an attempt to avert a filibuster.

Coburn has been locked in a battle with Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, on the issue. Norquist opposes eliminating the tax break unless it is paired with a tax cut to offset the revenue increase.

Coburn made his motion after another long-delayed amendment failed. Sen. Olympia Snowe’s provision requiring reviews of regulations and their effect on small businesses failed on a 53-46 vote, shy of the 60 votes needed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) shelved a small-business bill this year rather than vote on the Maine Republican’s amendment, but he relented Thursday. Snowe told reporters that she was happy that she got a vote and that a majority of Senators supported her amendment.

Reid had repeatedly blamed her amendment for bringing down the small-business bill, and he has repeatedly accused Republicans of blocking the jobs legislation.