As gasoline prices continued to climb above $4 a gallon, Senate Republicans today blocked a proposal to tax the windfall profits of the largest oil companies. The vote was 51 to 43, nine short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster and bring the energy package up for consideration. "I think the American people must be wondering what in God's name is going on in the nation's capital. While people are getting ripped off at the gas pump, while people in the northeast part of this country are wondering whether they are going to stay warm next winter with home heating prices escalating, the Republicans today refused to even allow a debate on some of the most important ways that we can lower gas and oil profits. People are outraged that when they're paying $4 for a gallon of gas, Exxon-Mobil has made $80 billion in the last two years, more profit than any corporation in the history of the world." Senator Bernie Sanders said at a Capitol press conference after the vote.
The bill would impose a windfall profits tax on big oil companies at a rate of 25 percent. The legislation also would curb rampant speculation that has driven-up oil prices by as much as 50 percent by making investors put up more collateral in the energy futures markets; outlawed gasoline price gouging, and authorized the Justice Department to bring charges of price fixing against countries that belong to the OPEC oil cartel.
To watch the senator's floor statement before the vote, click here.
To watch a press conference on the vote, click here.