Durbin: More ethanol votes likely

The Coburn amendment to economic development legislation on the Senate floor mirrors legislation he introduced with Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinLewandowski clashes with ABC host over whether Trump can fire Mueller Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate Judiciary reportedly drops Manafort subpoena | Kushner meets with House Intel | House passes Russia sanctions deal | What to watch at 'hacker summer camp' Manafort agrees to speak with investigators after subpoena MORE (D-Calif.).

Opponents of the credit — which resulted in $5.4 billion in foregone federal revenue last year, according to the Government Accountability Office — point to savings from repeal, and say the incentive isn’t needed because the national renewable fuels mandate already required blending of ethanol into gasoline.

Feinstein told reporters that the leadership campaign against the amendment coming up Tuesday afternoon has likely knocked it below 60 votes.

“I think we had the votes. But whether we do now or not, I don’t know, the strong possibility is we do not,” she told reporters in the Capitol Tuesday.

The credit of 45 cents for each gallon of ethanol blended into gasoline is slated to expire at year’s end.

Ethanol backers are floating various plans to gradually phase-out the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit in coming years while extending certain other incentives (more on that here and here).

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday reiterated the administration’s opposition to simply killing the blender’s credit outright.

“We are for reforming it, but we are not for repealing it.  And we are for reforming it in a way that can cut costs, but not for complete repeal,” he said.