Big Oil Pays Off Senate

What $23.5 Million in Oil Money Can Buy You!

Written by Green Chip Stocks
Posted March 30, 2012 at 4:47PM

rebgraphIn a 51-47 vote, 43 Senate Republicans and four Democrats filibustered to protect $24 billion in tax breaks for Big Oil. Although a majority voted for Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) bill, it fell short of the 60 needed. The only two Republicans to break rank were Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

A Think Progress Green analysis shows how oil and gas companies have funneled cash to the same senators who protected its handouts:

  • The 47 senators voting against the bill have received $23,582,500 in career contributions from oil and gas. The 51 senators voting to repeal oil tax breaks have received $5,873,600.
  • The senators who voted for Big Oil’s handouts received on average over four times as much career oil cash as those who voted to end them.
  • Overall, Senate Republicans have taken $23.2 million in oil and gas contributions. Democrats received $6.66 million.
  • Since 2011, Senate Republicans have voted seven times for pro-Big Oil interests and against clean energy three times.

Democrats who joined the Republicans in defeating the bill include Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Jim Webb (D-VA). Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) broke ranks and voted to cut the tax breaks. Two senators, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) didn’t vote.

Republicans have taken an overwhelming 88 percent of oil and gas contributions this election cycle. While showering politicans with cash, the oil industry also spent over $146,000,000 on lobbying last year.

Although 55 percent of Americans want to see Big Oil welfare end, the GOP once again largely acted in-line with their Big Oil donors.

The full list of oil contributions for the Senate can be found in the original version of this article here.

**Rebecca Leber is a research assistant for the ThinkProgress war room. She graduated from the University of Rochester and holds a B.A. in political science and English with a minor in economics.