The Washington Post

Senate Democrats use oil subsidy vote in fundraising effort

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent a letter to supporters on Wednesday touting the Democratic move to “put Republicans on record standing with Big Oil.”

“It’s a no-brainer: Big Oil doesn’t need taxpayer subsidies. ... It’s unfair, and it MUST stop. But last night, Republicans derailed a Democratic bill that would end this double-fisted cash grab and save $21 billion,” states the letter, which was signed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

And on Wednesday evening, Obama mentioned the vote in a speech at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Boston.

“At a time of high gas prices and instability around the world -- and I know folks are getting hurt by high gas prices -- that’s why we’ve got to keep on making these investments,” Obama said at the Boston Center for the Arts, according to a pool report of the event. “That’s why I was so disappointed yesterday when Republicans in Congress voted to keep handing $4 billion a year in taxpayer subsidies to oil and gas companies at a time when they are making tens of billions of dollars each -- huge profits -- while you’re struggling to fill up your gas tank.”

The fundraising letter and Obama’s campaign-trail mention are reminders that while the tax subsidy-measure on Tuesday had not been expected to pass, the vote served a political purpose for Democrats as well, adding another tool to their arsenal as members of both parties attempt to capitalize on voter anger over soaring gas prices.

The Senate rejected the “Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act,” in a 52-to-48 vote. Three Democrats joined nearly all Republican in voting against the measure, while two Republicans voted “yes.”

Republicans, meanwhile, have been using Tuesday’s vote – as well as Wednesday’s vote on a Senate Republican drilling measure – to blast Democrats for “voting to raise energy taxes” and voting “against domestic energy production.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee on Wednesday sent out several releases on the topic, taking aim at Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.).


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