This vote was on an amendment that would have barred organizations from receiving any federal benefits if they also received a government-backed loan under a program aimed at promoting wind energy development.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) offered the amendment during consideration of a bill that authorizes federal programs that assist farmers and low-income Americans. The underlying bill included funding to provide loans for the development of wind energy. Under Sen. Alexander’s amendment, an organization that received such a loan would be unable to benefit from any other federal assistance or tax break.
Sen. Alexander argued that the wind-energy program duplicated other federal programs that incentivize wind energy development. Wind energy developers should not be allowed to benefit from more than one program, he said.
“If my colleagues think it is a good idea to give rich developers of wind turbines a double dip into the federal treasury at a time when we are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar, then this provision in the farm bill is for you,” Sen. Alexander said. “If you think a single dip into the Treasury is justified, then this amendment is for you.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who opposed the amendment, argued that the additional wind-energy program would help spur investment in rural areas. The United States would reap significant benefits from a strong renewable energy industry and should not back down from investing in wind energy, she said.
“This amendment would cut off access for farmers and small businesses that are looking to develop wind energy projects that will create jobs,” Sen. Stabenow said. “We are in the middle of a global clean energy race with countries such as China, and this is about giving our businesses a leg up to be able to win that race. Frankly, it is about getting us off of foreign oil. This is one way to do that and to create jobs.”
The Senate defeated Sen. Alexander’s amendment by a vote of 33-66. Voting “yea” were 33 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 53 Democrats and 13 Republicans. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to bar organizations from receiving any federal benefits if they also received assistance under a new program aimed at promoting wind energy development.