News Releases

Senate Republicans Block Effort to Close Tax Loopholes for Big Oil Companies

May 17 2011

Murray spoke on floor before vote to urge her colleagues to support legislation

Watch Senator Murray's speech

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke on the Senate floor to once again urge her colleagues to support the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, which would have forced the biggest oil companies to give up the $2 billion a year in wasteful taxpayer-funded subsidies they currently receive. Murray voted to proceed on the legislation, but it was blocked by Senate Republicans on a 52-48 vote (60 votes were required).

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s speech today:

“…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.”

“I urge my colleagues to support this legislation today. To put taxpayers and the middle class ahead of big oil, to end the wasteful giveaways to oil companies, and to use that money to pay down the deficit in a responsible way.”

The full text of Senator Murray speech follows:

“Mr. President, once again I come to the floor to urge my colleagues to support the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act. And to be honest, I am disappointed that this is facing so much opposition.

“All across the country, people are talking about ways to rein in the debt and deficit.  And here in Washington, D.C. we are having a vigorous debate about the best ways to do that.

“I happen to think that we should cut spending responsibly, while continuing to make the investments we need to grow the economy and create jobs for middle class workers, while Republicans seem to favor a slash and burn approach that would devastate seniors and the middle class.

“So there are some difficult issues we need to work through, but Mr. President, this is one area that should be easy.

“This legislation says that the biggest oil companies in the country should stop getting subsidies from American taxpayers. It says that the 2 billion dollars a year we send to these hugely profitable companies should instead be used to pay down the deficit.  And Mr. President, I don’t understand why this seems to be so controversial.

“The big oil companies are already making billions of dollars in profits from families in America who are paying sky-high prices at the pump.  In fact, the five biggest oil companies have made nearly a trillion dollars in profits in the last decade, and 36 billion dollars profit in the first three months of this year alone.

“But it’s not enough that they are making money hand over fist from families paying sky-high prices at the pump, they then come here before Congress and make the outlandish claim that they also need to be subsidized by the taxpayers.

“It just doesn’t make any sense. And it needs to end.

“Because Mr. President, 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.

“Mr. President, I also want to spend a minute talking about the high prices families across the country have been paying for gas.

“I was recently back in my home state of Washington with Senator Cantwell, and we had the opportunity to meet with some local small business owners to talk about the impact the skyrocketing prices of oil and gas were having on their businesses.

“And Mr. President, they are hurting.

“These small business owners are already struggling to keep their doors open in these tough economic times, and every time prices go up at the pump, they are pushed one step closer to the edge.

“That’s why I believe that as a country, we need to move away from our dependence on foreign oil, and toward a clean-energy future.

“And it’s why I’ve called for a crackdown on the speculation that is a part of what pushes gas prices up, and why I am so disappointed that the House Republicans’ budget proposal slashed funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the very agency charged with protecting consumers from excessive speculation in these markets.

“And Mr. President—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.

“Again, these are two very different approaches to tackling the deficit. And I am going to keep fighting to make sure middle class families are protected.

“So Mr. President, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation today.

“To put taxpayers and the middle class ahead of big oil, to end the wasteful giveaways to oil companies, and to use that money to pay down the deficit in a responsible way.

“Once again, I want to thank Senators Menendez, McCaskill, Tester, and Brown for their great work on this issue And I truly hope we can put this issue to rest and save taxpayers 21 billion dollars over the next 10 years.

“Thank you. I yield the floor.”