Reporting from Washington — The Senate voted Thursday to do away with the ethanol tax credit, an indication of waning support for the nearly $6 billion annual subsidy amid spiraling federal debt.
But the tax credit is likely to survive, at least for now: Its elimination is attached to a stalled economic development bill.
The 73-27 vote to advance the legislation drew support across party lines. Senators from farm states found little backing for continuing a tax break that government auditors have called unnecessary.
"This subsidy is wasteful and duplicative," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who wrote the measure with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
The 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit goes to companies that blend ethanol with gasoline. But the Government Accountability Office said this year that the incentive was no longer necessary because a 2005 energy act required ethanol to be increasingly mixed with gas. The proposal also would end a 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol.