Upcoming ethanol vote splits Senate Republicans

A procedural vote on the amendment, which would repeal the 45-cent blender tax credit for ethanol and the 54-cent tariff on imported ethanol, is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. 

Thune argued that ethanol, which is blended into much of the gasoline sold in the U.S., plays a crucial role in creating energy independence for the U.S. by  displacing about 445 million barrels of oil each year.

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) also argued that Coburn's amendment would drive gas prices even higher.

"We don't want to jeopardize the price at the pump," said Johanns. "It's already expensive enough. I would simply say this is an issue that has ramifications on the economy because of the impact ethanol has on the price of fuel in our country."

But last week in presenting the amendment, Coburn argued from the floor that the U.S. should save the money.

“The federal government now spends $6 billion a year paying over 40 cents a gallon to have ethanol blended, which is already mandated by law that they have to blend it anyway,” said Coburn.