Senate Republicans Block Gas Price Bill

WASHINGTON, June 10 - As gasoline prices climbed 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 filibuster and bring the energy package up for consideration.

"The American people are sick and tired of paying $4 dollars a gallon for gas. In the northeast, people are worried about how they're going to stay warm next winter, while at the same time Exxon-Mobil has made more profits than any company in the history of the world," said Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

The bill would have imposed a windfall profits tax on big oil companies at a rate of 25 percent; curbed unrestrained speculation that has driven up oil prices by as much as 50 percent; outlawed gasoline price gouging, and authorized the Justice Department to bring charges of price fixing against countries that belong to the OPEC oil cartel.

"People are outraged," Sanders told a Capitol press conference after the vote. "The Republicans today refused to even allow a debate on some of the most important ways that we can lower gas and oil prices."

In addition to short-term measures to rein in rapidly rising gasoline prices, Sanders also is the chief sponsor of the most aggressive Senate legislation to combat global warming. "It is absolutely insane that this country is not moving forward vigorously in terms of sustainable energy so we can break our dependency on fossil fuel and foreign oil and create millions of good-paying jobs," he said.