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 SessionsSessions says FBI agent Peter Strzok no longer has his security clearance Grassley wants to subpoena Comey, Lynch after critical IG report Sessions: 'We never really intended' to separate families MORE (R-Ala.) pertaining to a lawsuit over patent term extensions, and another amendment offered by Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellEnergy commission sees no national security risk from coal plant closures OPEC and Russia may raise oil output under pressure from Trump Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers 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.