After a full day of debate in which senators agreed that gas was too expensive and almost nothing else, a Democratic proposal to strip $2 billion in annual tax subsidies from five major oil companies failed Tuesday.
The vote was on a procedural question – whether to bring the bill to the floor for debate. Such motions require 60 votes to pass so while the bill earned a majority, 52 to 48, it still fell short. (Every Democrat voted for it except Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Begich of Alaska while all Republicans except Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine voted against it.)
Democrats said the vote delays, but does not end, efforts to change tax law that would disqualify Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips, Shell and BP from pocketing $21 billion in subsidies over the next 10 years.
With the setback, Democrats now hope to build their case to include the measure in a deficit-reduction package being negotiated by key lawmakers and the Obama administration. Lawmakers from both parties are demanding deficit reduction as part of deal to increase the government’s ability to borrow and avoid an unprecedented default on U.S. Treasury bonds.