Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is following the White House’s lead by seizing on the populist idea of ending subsidies for the five largest oil giants.
Reid said he would hold a vote as soon as possible on a bill to eliminate the tax breaks for the five largest oil companies, Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips, which have reported record profits in recent weeks and months.
“We have to take away the subsidies for these five major oil companies,” he told reporters on a conference call Wednesday. “There’s no need for these subsidies. The companies have broken records [with their] profits.”
With gas prices skyrocketing, Democrats have rallied around the idea of eliminating oil subsidies this week after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) appeared to open the door to the idea of ending payments to oil companies in an interview with ABC News released Monday afternoon.
Boehner’s office has since dialed back his comments, arguing that oil companies would simply pass on any increased costs to consumers, exactly the opposite of what Congress should be doing right now. Other GOP leaders in the House and Senate quickly distanced themselves from any plan to end the subsidies and definitively declared the issue dead on arrival.
Democrats dismiss the notion that ending oil subsidies would lead to higher prices at the pump, and Obama did his best to exploit divisions within the Republican party Tuesday when he sent Boehner a letter applauding his apparent willingness to consider jettisoning the tax breaks and calling for a vote on the issue as soon as possible.
House Democrats, led by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR), a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, are circulating a follow-up letter to Boehner urging him to hold a vote to repealing oil subsidies for the nation’s largest oil companies.
“As Speaker Boehner himself has recognized, these subsidies are symbolic of wasteful and unnecessary spending in an era of tight budgets,” Blumenauer said in a release. “Opinion polls show that the vast majority of Americans want these wasteful subsidies repealed, and we are urging the Speaker to respect their will by holding an up-or-down vote.”
Blumenauer has introduced a bill to end nearly $8 billion a year in taxpayer subsidies to the big five oil giants. After all of his Democratic colleagues have a chance to sign it, Blumenauer plans to send Boehner the letter Thursday.