This vote was on an amendment that aimed to encourage the use of natural-gas fueled vehicles and expand the availability of natural gas at pumping stations.
The bipartisan amendment was offered by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Harry Reid (D-NV). It would have offered tax credits to truck owners who convert their vehicle to run on natural gas. In addition, fueling stations would have been eligible for tax credits for adding a natural gas pump. The senators said their goal was to jump-start natural gas as a popular fuel for vehicles. This would help reduce the impact of high gasoline prices while promoting energy independence, since natural gas is abundant in the United States, they said.
“Natural gas is $1.50 cheaper than gasoline. We have a 100-plus-year supply of natural gas we can draw from. The only thing that is in our way is we have so few natural gas vehicles and refueling stations on the road,” Sen. Menendez said. “Instead of exporting natural gas, which we are about to do in this country, let's use it in America so we can give our drivers an option.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who opposed the amendment, argued that it would have represented “more directives from Washington to the marketplace.”
“Consumer choice should be the driver of technology in the marketplace, not securing favor in Washington,” Sen. Cornyn said. “Companies and consumers can make their own choices about what fuel to use, and what kind of car to drive. We should be out of the game of favoring one choice over another, and ensure that fuel supplies are not unnecessarily restricted.”
Even though 51 senators voted for the amendment and only 47 voted against it, the amendment was defeated because it was brought up under Senate rules that require 60 votes for passage. Voting “yea” were 45 Democrats, including a majority of progressives, and 6 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 39 Republicans and 8 Democrats. As a result, the Senate defeated the bipartisan amendment to encourage more natural gas-powered vehicles and natural gas fueling stations in the United States.