Yesterday, the U.S. Senate failed to get the 60 votes needed to eliminate $24 billion in taxpayer subsidies for the five richest oil companies. Lining up neatly by parties, the 57-41 vote had all the Republicans, except for the two senators from Maine, joined by four Democrats, filibuster Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) bill to cut subsidies to Big Oil and pay for investments in wind power and energy efficiency.
Not only was the split along party lines, the 47 senators who voted against the bill have received $23,582,500 in career contributions from the oil and gas industries, compared to $5,873,600 for the 51 senators who voted for the bill, according to a ThinkProgress analysis.
Meanwhile, Maplight reports that interest groups who opposed the bill (including major oil and gas producers, manufacturing groups, and chambers of commerce) gave on average 14 times more to the senators who voted no ($264,051) as they did to the senators who supported the bill ($18,561).
Before the vote, Sen. Frank Lautenberg took to the floor to note just one of the things these “immoral” tax breaks pay for: enormous oil company executive salaries. The total combined income of all the residents of a county in Mississippi is less than the annual salary of the CEO at ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, or Chevron:
“A single oil company CEO makes more in one year than all the people in that county all together. They’re already contributing to his salary when they fill up at the gas tank,” he said. “Working people are struggling to fill up their tanks while oil executives are struggling to carry their big fat paychecks to the bank.”
This is just one way Big Oil gets what it wants from Congress. It also spent $148 million on lobbying last year.