Senate Squashes Bill to End Big Oil Tax Breaks

Bill failed to get a 60-vote supermajority thanks to GOP opposition
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2011 10:43 AM CDT
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., center, quotes a USA Today article about gas prices as he and other Senate Republicans speak to reporters ahead of the vote on oil tax breaks, May 17, 2011.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – Democrats’ bid to strip five top oil companies of some of their more generous tax breaks fell eight votes short of the 60 needed to proceed yesterday, with 45 Republican and three Democratic senators voting against it, the New York Times reports. But Democrats say they won't give up, and plan to insist that the elimination of the tax breaks be part of any future debt ceiling agreement. Democrats say the tax breaks serve only to pad the industry’s soaring profits, even as the deficit rises and consumers struggle to pay at the pump, while Republicans say it will make prices worse.

“Why are we harming an industry ... that employs 9.2 million people in the United States?” asked Mary Landrieu, one of the Democratic defectors. “Why are we doing it?” The bill would have brought in an estimated $21 billion over 10 years, and the money would have been used to reduce the deficit—something Democrats hoped would bring Republicans onboard. Most of the savings would have come from cutting a domestic manufacturing deduction, and the deduction for taxes paid to foreign governments.

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