WASHINGTON – Arkansas Sens. Mark Pryor and John Boozman stood on opposite sides Thursday as the Senate blocked President Barack Obama's call to end tax breaks for major oil companies.
WASHINGTON – Arkansas Sens. Mark Pryor and John Boozman stood on opposite sides Thursday as the Senate blocked President Barack Obama’s call to end tax breaks for major oil companies.
The Senate voted 51-47 to end debate and vote on the proposal but fell nine votes shy of the 60 needed to succeed. The loss effectively killed the measure that was likely to fail in the Republican-controlled House in any case.
Pryor, a Democrat, supported ending the tax breaks while Boozman, a Republican, opposed.
As the Senate floor debate took place Thursday morning, Obama was in the White House Rose Garden urging Congress to end the tax breaks so that the revenue can be invested in alternative energy programs.
“They can either vote to spend billions of dollars on oil subsidies that keep us trapped in the past. Or they can vote to end these taxpayer subsidies so that we can invest in the future. It’s that simple,” Obama said.
Boozman said he opposed the bill because he sees no sense in increasing taxes on a product that is already costing consumers too much.
“It doesn’t make any sense to do that now when Arkansans are struggling with very high gasoline prices,” he said.
Instead, Boozman said the federal government should be striving to increase domestic production by opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore areas to drilling.
“In order to decrease the price you have to increase the supply. That’s a basic economic principle,” he said.
The Senate bill would have repealed subsidies that benefit BP, Exxon, Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips to the tune of about $2 billion a year. Those companies have enjoyed record profits in recent years as oil prices have risen to nearly $4 a gallon nationally.