Senate Blocks Bill That Included Ethanol Repeal

The U.S. Capitol and House of Representatives in Washington.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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By James Steward

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans blocked a Senate jobs bill on Tuesday that included a repeal of the ethanol tax credit. Yet ending that tax break remains a live option for budget cutters looking for ways to reduce massive federal deficits.

The Senate voted 51-49 against allowing a final vote on the overall bill, which would have renewed the Economic Development Administration for five more years. All 47 Republicans were joined by four Democrats in derailing the bill. Democrats fell 11 votes short of the 60 they needed to end the delaying tactics and move toward a vote on final passage.

The bill had attracted more than 80 amendments, mostly from Republicans, doing everything from blocking President Barack Obama's health care law to barring the prairie chicken from becoming an endangered species. Republicans complained that amendments weren't considered, while Democrats said GOP senators were opposing a measure that would have created hundreds of thousands of jobs at a time when the economy has been painfully weak.

While most amendments were never voted on, senators did vote last Thursday to end ethanol tax credits. The strong 73-27 tally to repeal the $5 billion annual subsidy, supported by majorities of both Democrats and Republicans, seemed to signal a willingness by lawmakers to end the tax break.

That was viewed as a strong message to Vice President Joe Biden and top lawmakers of both parties who have been negotiating over budget savings that could be coupled with a vote this summer to renew the government's expired authority to borrow money.

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