Coburn called fee diversion “immoral” and "close to being criminal," and argued that senators ought not shrink from doing the right thing out of fear of what lawmakers in the House might want.

“Why would we tell the American people we are not going to the right thing… because someone the House doesn't want us to? That we are not going to put these corrections in the House bill?” asked Coburn.

Coburn said that so far more than $900 million had been "stolen" from the U.S. Patent Office through fee diversion and that the money ought to be used to improve the Patent Office and go through a 700,000 backlog of applications.

Prior to that vote the Senate also rejected an amendment 47-51 offered by Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsCurtis wins Chaffetz's former Utah House seat Overnight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny FBI can’t unlock Texas shooter’s phone MORE (R-Ala.) pertaining to a lawsuit over patent term extensions, and another amendment offered by Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDemocrats oppose effort to delay or repeal Interior methane rule Senators spar over proposal to drill in Alaska wildlife refuge Fake quorum calls are an excuse for the Senate's inaction MORE (D-Wash.), about a transitional program for covered business method patents 13-85.

The underlying legislation, which is now up for a vote on final passage, would change the U.S. from a first-to-invent to a first-inventor-to-file patent system, a move proponents say would bring the U.S. patent system closer to systems already used by most of the rest of the world.