Don’t count Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) among those who see ethanol on the ropes politically, despite Thursday’s lopsided Senate vote to strip a multibillion-dollar tax break that benefits the industry.
While voting to end the ethanol blender’s credit and import tariff, the Senate rejected — 41-59 — McCain’s amendment to kill federal funds for installation of ethanol pumps and storage tanks at gas stations.
“It lost because of the influence of the ethanol lobby,” McCain said on Fox News Thursday, alleging ethanol “is probably the greatest rip-off that I've seen since P.T. Barnum.
“It is one of the most outrageous examples of the influence of special interests,” McCain said.
He said that the rejection of his amendment thwarts the will of voters who handed Republicans major gains in last year’s midterm elections.
“The American people as of last November expected us to act. If we don't, I think they will try to find somebody else that will. This example, the failure to address ethanol, at last to phase out these incredible subsidies to ethanol is really, I'm sorry to say, a signal to the American people we are not serious. And the special interests still govern here in Washington.”
Support for ethanol is more regional than partisan. Eleven Republicans joined 48 Democrats in opposition to McCain’s amendment.