The Senate voted to start debate on a bill that would end roughly $20 billion in federal subsidies to the largest oil companies and use the savings to restore lapsed tax credits to the renewable energy industry and to pay down the budget deficit.
The 92-4 vote occurred after Republicans decided they would let Democrats bring the bill to the floor so they could engage in a wider debate on energy policy. GOP leadership aides made it clear there is little chance the Senate would approve the bill unless it is substantially overhauled.
GOP lawmakers hope that with the pump price of gasoline at around $4 a gallon, they can make political gains. They’ll likely push for votes this week on measures that would open up more of the U.S. to oil and natural gas exploratory drilling and expediting the approval of the construction of the northern leg of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.
“Republicans plan to support moving forward on a debate on the legislation, because frankly, we think it is a debate that Americans deserve,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said on the Senate floor Monday.
Democrats argue that ending subsidies to the largest oil companies wouldn’t affect the price of gasoline, but would facilitate advancements in renewable energy. Just over half of the $20 billion would be used to pay for the renewal of a series of lapsed tax credits aimed at companies that produce renewable energy sources and consumers who purchase solar panels for their homes and businesses.
The rest of the savings would be directed towards the federal budget deficit.
Democrats have brought versions of the bill up for votes several times in the last couple of years, and each time it has failed.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding