GOP blocks measures aimed at reducing pain at pump
Item by Chris Graham
Senate Democrats failed today to muster enough votes to block GOP filibusters on measures that would have imposed a windfall profits tax on oil companies and offered tax relief to consumers feeling the pinch at the gas pump.
“It is a disappointing day when the Senate can’t work in a bipartisan fashion to address the energy crisis that strains the pocketbooks of families and small businesses across the country,” said Virginia Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, a supporter of both legislative proposals.
“With gas at over $4 a gallon, it is imperative that we start holding oil companies accountable and becoming aggressive about our energy options. Since 2002, the profits of the five major oil companies have quadrupled. Americans are looking for leadership,” Webb said.
Six Republicans voted to invoke cloture and begin debate on the items – including Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner. Warner is not running for re-election in the fall.
The Consumer First Act would have, in addition to the windfall profits tax on oil companies, rolled back tax breaks for oil companies, limited the price impacts of market speculation, and provided incentives for companies to invest in renewable energies. The Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act included alternative-energy solutions and tax relief including protections against the Alternative Minimum Tax.
“When we went into Iraq, oil was $24 per barrel. Today it costs more than $130. This escalation has provided an unearned windfall for big oil companies, hitting consumers hard,” Webb said. “This is one of the most disappointing votes that I’ve experienced over the last year and a half in the Senate—to preserve tax breaks for oil companies at the expense of new investments in alternative energy and tax relief for working people.”