This was a vote on 19 tax breaks for alternative energy producers, energy-efficiency projects, and mine safety. The tax breaks had expired at the end of 2011, but the amendment would have extended them for another year.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) offered the amendment during consideration of a bill that would fund road construction, bridges, mass transit, and other transportation projects around the nation. Most of the tax breaks would have benefited “clean energy” technology like wind and solar power and the purchase of plug-in electric vehicles.
Sen. Stabenow said her amendment would “stop the tax increase on American businesses that are creating clean-energy jobs. Especially now when gas prices are going up and families are struggling more than ever to fill the tank, we shouldn't be raising taxes on innovators and job creators who are helping to lower America's energy bills.”
The conservative Heritage Foundation attacked Sen. Stabenow’s amendment as “subsidizing inefficient technologies.” It argued that the tax breaks “are not good for the taxpayers; they’re not good for economic growth; and they’re not even good for the long-term viability of these industries.”
Sen. Stabenow’s amendment was defeated on a 49-49 vote. Even if another senator or the Vice President had been on hand to break the tie, the amendment still would have failed because it was brought up under Senate rules that require 60 votes for passage. Voting “yea” were 49 Democrats, including a majority of progressives. Voting “nay” were 45 Republicans and 4 Democrats. As a result, the Senate did not extend a series of tax breaks for alternative energy producers, energy-efficiency projects, and mine safety.