Few bills will make it out of Congress as time winds down before elections. The Internet Tax Bill, seen as a must-pass, was hoped to be another successful vehicle to attach renewable fuel or energy policy language as an amendment. But another attempt failed on Thursday in the U.S. Senate, where ethanol proponents were unable to get enough votes for cloture (60 votes).
Enough votes for cloture prevented a comprehensive energy bill from passing last fall, short only two votes. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, S.D., along with three other senators, tried attaching an amendment to the Internet bill that would eliminate methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), the major contention point of the comprehensive package. Daschle's amendment also proposed to double ethanol use to 5 billion gallons a year by 2012.
Senate Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, N.M., tried proposing the same comprehensive package that was introduced last fall as an amendment to the Internet bill. That too was voted down.
Reuters reports that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist supports more ethanol production, but says a broader energy bill would be more successful at accomplishing other key energy needs, including modernizing the nation's electric grid, opening up an Alaskan natural gas pipeline and promoting other renewable energy sources.