That Washington

Republicans Block Democratic Bill to End Oil Subsidies

By Andrew Calkins May 17, 2011

On the U.S. Senate floor today, Washington Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell both spoke in favor of the  bill to end tax breaks for big oil companies. Those loopholes total an estimated $21 billion over 10 years.

Gas prices have reached $4 a gallon in much of the country, sparking the Democratic legislation and a senate hearing last week where Cantwell grilled Exxon's CEO over the influence of speculation in oil market prices.

Republicans blocked the move today in the senate, however, by preventing the Democrats from reaching 60 votes to consider the legislation. The vote was 52-48.

Before the motion failed, Cantwell hit the oil industry in her floor speech: [pullquote]It is simply incomprehensible for anyone to defend these subsidies – some which have been around for decades – as a wise use of our resources. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to fork over their hard-earned dollars to pad the bottom line of big oil companies.—Sen. Cantwell[/pullquote]
Ending over $20 billion in taxpayer-funded giveaways to big oil shouldn’t even be a question. Oil companies are some of the most profitable businesses on the planet; they don’t need any more incentives to drill when the price of oil is $100 a barrel, and we are facing record budget deficits. It is simply incomprehensible for anyone to defend these subsidies – some which have been around for decades – as a wise use of our resources. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to fork over their hard-earned dollars to pad the bottom line of big oil companies, and that’s a position I’ve taken since day one in this office. In 2008, I led an effort to take away some of the oil companies’ tax breaks and invest in clean energy. I plan to keep fighting to completely end these unwarranted subsidies.

“American taxpayers are already burdened by $4-a-gallon gas, while oil companies made nearly $36 billion in the first three months of this year alone. Taxpayers deserve to know they’re paying a fair and market-based price at the pump. That’s why I continue to press the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to implement overdue rules to rein in excessive speculation that is behind much of today’s artificially elevated oil and gas prices.”

And Murray's speech:
"Budgets are about more than numbers on a page. They are about our priorities and our values as a nation. So I think that before we cut spending in areas that will impact middle class families and the most vulnerable among us, we should focus on cutting out the wasteful subsidies to huge companies that don’t need it. And that’s exactly what this bill does.”

“I really think this gets to a major difference in philosophy between the two parties here today. Democrats are fighting to rein in the deficit by ending the wasteful subsidies that the biggest oil companies are getting from the American taxpayer. While Republicans are fighting to cripple the agency charged with protecting middle class families from being ripped off and preyed upon.”
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