The dispute is between Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist insists and many Republican politicans have agreed that policy makers sign a no new taxes pledge. But Norquists definition of taxes is broad. For instance, he says eliminating the multi-billion dollar subsidy for ethanol is a tax increase, something Coburn has publicly said is absurb, especially if Republicans are going to be effective in cutting the federal deficit.
There was a complicated procedural vote in the Senate in which 43 Republicans sided with Coburn and against Norquist. (Check out Ezra Kleins post on the subject if you want to go deeper into the weeds). The practical upshot is Coburn took a big chink out of Norquistss armor.
Speaking later Tuesday on The Last Word with Lawrence ODonnell on MSNBC, Coburn said: Grovers old news, it doesnt matter what he says.