U.S. senators who voted this week to continue oil-and-gas
company tax subsidies have received $1.48 million in campaign
contributions from the O&G industry during the current
two-year election cycle, while senators who voted to discontinue
them have received only $400,075 in such donations.
The Senate on Thursday scuttled a bill sponsored by Sen.
Robert Menendez, D-N.J., that would have slashed tax breaks for
the five largest O&G companies, among other things. Overall,
an estimated $24 billion in tax subsidies would have been
Combining data at the
Center for Responsive Politics'
with the results of the Senate vote, it is clear 13 of the 20
senators who have received the most money in O&G campaign
contributions during the 2011-2012 election cycle effectively
voted for the tax breaks and that six of them effectively voted
against the tax subsidies. One -- Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, with
$192,900 in O&G donations -- did not vote.
Among the 13 senators who voted for the O&G tax breaks, 11
are Republicans and two are Democrats. They have collected $1.31
million in campaign contributions by the industry during the
current election cycle. Appropriately, they are led by Senate
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., with $264,700.
Among the six senators who voted against the O&G tax
subsidies, five are Democrats and one is Republican. They have
collected $204,058 in campaign donations by the industry during
the current election cycle. Ironically, they include bill sponsor
Menendez, with $25,900.
The bill was debated for 30 hours before a procedural vote
took place Thursday to move the bill forward. Sixty votes were
needed, but the measure lost, 51-47.
Despite having President Barack Obama's explicit support, the
bill was expected to fail.
"There is no question that special-interest money in the
political system helps shape legislative outcome," said Tyson
Slocum, the director of the energy program for Public Citizen, an
advocacy group that combats the influence lobbyists have in
"There is a reason they do it [i.e., contribute to political
candidates]," Slocum noted. "They don't do it out of charity.
They do it because they expect a return on their investment."
Speaking of the vote on Thursday, Slocum said, "It is
difficult to understand why a certain number of senators would
support tax deductions for oil companies at a time of record
The vote came as the White House battles the perception is it
not doing enough to lower high energy prices.
The national average price of gasoline was $3.92, up 32 cents
from a year ago.
Obama proposed cutting 12 tax breaks for the O&G industry
in his 2013 budget, eliminating $41 billion in such subsidies
over 10 years.
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N.B.: This article has been edited since its original