Led by Republicans, the US Senate decided to continue over $20 billion in taxpayer subsidies to major oil companies Thursday.
New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez proposed the bill to stop the billions in subsidies that go to oil corporations. The outcome was 51-47, falling mainly in line with party affiliations. Though a slight majority of the votes were in favor of ending the subsidies, the Senate did not obtain the necessary 60 votes to avoid a filibuster.
Shortly before the vote, President Barack Obama delivered a speech urging Congress to end subsidies to the largest oil companies. In the past year, the five biggest oil corporations – Chevron, Conoco, BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil — earned what Obama called “record profits”: a total of $140 billion.
“American oil is booming, the oil industry is doing just fine,” Obama said in his speech. “That’s why I think it’s time they got by without help from taxpayers who already have a tough enough time paying the bills and filling up their gas tanks. I think it’s curious that some folks in Congress, who are the first to belittle investments in new sources of energy, are those who are fighting the hardest to maintain these giveaways for the oil companies.”
Democrats had suggested moving the money allotted to oil subsidies toward additional tax credits for environmentally friendly actions like electric cars and solar energy, as well as paying off part of the national deficit.
On the other hand, Republicans expressed a reluctance to burden oil companies financially at a time when gas prices are on the rise. Ultimately, however, both sides seemed to concede that the subsidies should not have an effect on gas prices.
Noting that Republican senators has voted overwhelmingly in favor of oil company interests in recent months, Think Progress performed an analysis to determine whether campaign contributions from oil companies had any correlation with those who voted against the subsidies ban. They found that the 47 senators who voted against the bill (thus to keep the subsidies) have received $23,582,500 in oil contributions, while those who voted for the bill (and thus against subsidies) had received $5,873,600 in gas company contributions. That discrepancy appears to be telling.
For a more specific breakdown of how each senator voted and how much money in campaign contributions he or she has received from oil companies throughout his or her career, check out Think Progress’s chart.
Photo Credit: Flcelloguy