Thursday, April 27, 2006

Breaking: Wyden Leading Filibuster on Oil Tax Breaks

Senator Wyden is currently holding the floor in filibuster, in order to gain a vote on his amendment to eliminate royalty relief (ie subsidies) for oil companies whenever the price of a barrel exceeds $50 $55. Not only the GOP leadership, but certain corporate-beholden Democrats do not relish such a vote. Good on Wyden for making the stand now, as the oil companies release their 1Q profit statements and nearly everyone in the country sees a '3' at the front of the price of gas in their area.

To watch the Senate session live, go to C-SPAN 2. For a running description from the left on the filibuster, check out Daily Kos.

Update, 1145 AM--
Here's the statement from Wyden's office:
Senator Wyden has gone to the floor to demand that the US Senate vote on ending the practice of giving billions of dollars in royalty relief to big oil. Under last year’s energy bill, oil companies got a great deal – a reduced royalty payment for oil and gas taken from federal lands that costs as much as $35 billion. Wyden’s amendment would stop this ride as long as the price of oil is above $55 per barrel, except where royalty relief is needed to avoid supply disruptions because of hurricanes or other natural disasters.

With oil selling for more than $70 a barrel -- $15 a barrel higher than at the price the President said incentives weren’t needed -- Congress should not continue giving away more taxpayer money for unnecessary subsidies to benefit profitable energy interests. It is time to prohibit further royalty relief and save our citizens hard earned tax dollars for more worthy uses.

Senator Wyden went to the floor at 10:51 am (Eastern time) this morning to call for a guaranteed vote on this amendment. The majority has objected to a vote and he will remain on the floor until he gets it. He is refusing to leave the floor because if he does, he loses the right to take the floor on his amendment again, and more importantly would then leave without any guarantee that his amendment would be voted upon. He is remaining on the floor until he gets an agreement for a vote on his amendment.

Update, 1230p--
Well, that's that. By my watch, Wyden yielded the floor at 12:26 PDT, meaning a 5 hour, 5 minute individual filibuster. Impressive, but currently to no avail. The amendment will not apparently be voted on at this time, although Wyden is not withdrawing it. Minority Leader Reid took the floor for a moment and essentially told him to shut it down, which Wyden did--but not before declaring that he'd be back.

So that kinda sucks--but what bothers me more is that a US Senator went into filibuster on the topic of oil prices, and no major media outlets are seeing fit to report that. I just scanned CNN, MSNBC,, Fox, ABC and CBS. Not a SINGLE ONE had any mention of the filibuster on the front page. None. My inside sources tell me the local TV stations aired not a peep of it at noon, either. What's up with that? It's almost as if ties to big corporate interests and their ad money is somehow...squelching the story? Nah, couldn't be, right?

Update, 1255p--
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