Tom Coburn is trying to completely end the tax credit for ethanol-gasoline blenders right away.
Several senators from farm states are trying to modify the subsidy instead.
"Under this proposal, ethanol blenders would get no subsidy at all when oil prices are above $90 a barrel. If oil falls to between $80 and $90 a barrel, they would get a six cents per gallon subsidy. Another six cents would be added for each $10 drop in the price of oil, and a maximum subsidy of 30 cents a gallon could be received when oil falls to $50 a barrel or less (a summary of the bill is here).
That's still less than the current 45 cents a gallon subsidy that ethanol blenders receive currently, regardless of the price of oil."
Here are the Senators with the alternative proposal:
"John Thune (R-SD), .. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn), .. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), John Hoeven (R-ND), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)." (<-- That may not be a complete list.)
Thus far, the Republicans have been treating things like eliminating subsidies for oil companies as "tax increases" and therefore totally unacceptable. If it turns out that eliminating or modifying/reducing a subsidy for ethanol producers is acceptable, there may be an opportunity for raising revenue that does not run up against Republican "no new taxes" ideology. In all likelihood, Republicans will continue to defend the oil subsidy, but at least this could be turned into an interesting set of campaign ads.
ETA: The Coburn version failed. WaPo coverage is very focused on the Grover Norquist aspect. It looks like Norquist's maneuvering is receiving much more serious coverage now, and I believe that WaPo is positioning Norquist as The Bad Guy and as Overreaching. But I might be reading things into the article that aren't there.