Usually when the Senate approves something with an overwhelming margin, like the 73-27 vote that took down ethanol subsidies, the consensus is built around the moderates of both parties. On Thursday, some of the most liberal and conservative members of the Senate found themselves in agreement.
On the liberal side stood Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). After voting, Sanders said,
“I voted today to end the ethanol subsidy which would save taxpayers $3 billion for the remainder of this year. Subsidizing the ethanol industry not only is a great expenditure of taxpayer dollars, but it also has a negative impact on farmers and consumers in Vermont and around the world in terms of higher feed prices and higher prices for food.”
The strange bedfellows from the Republican Party included Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). DeMint, who is one of the proudest carriers of the Tea Party platform, said that “Congress has taken two steps forward on ending our misguided ethanol policy, but unless we repeal the ethanol mandate, Americans will still be forced to fill their tanks with gas mixed with ethanol.”
It’s not often that DeMint and Sanders see eye to eye — or shall I say ear to ear? — on anything. It’s interesting to see the different arguments they use to reach the same conclusion.
As for the symbolism of the Senate uniting over this issue, it won’t go too far beyond symbolism. President Obama has said
he doesn’t plan on signing any legislation into law that calls for the elimination of ethanol subsidies.