A Year After Barton’s Apology to BP: Republicans Still Voting with Big Oil, Not American Families & Businesses

A year ago, Republican ties to Big Oil were exemplified in the words of Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) – the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  Americans were outraged when Barton apologized to BP, the oil company behind  the worst oil spill in American history, after President Obama got BP to set aside $20 billion for Gulf Coast residents and businesses and to protect taxpayers.  Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) “apologize[d]” to BP CEO Tony Hayward, calling the White House actions a “shakedown” of the foreign oil company.

“I am ashamed of what happened at the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown — in this case a $20 billion shakedown…I apologize,”Rep. Barton (R-TX) said.

A year later, Republicans ties’ to Big Oil continue to be demonstrated through their deeds.  While the American people are looking for real solutions to high gas prices, just this year House Republicans have voted 12 times against holding Big Oil accountable and providing relief to America’s taxpayers and consumers.  Time and again, Republicans have voted to protect tax breaks for Big Oil and protect Wall Street speculators driving up gas prices, and against gasoline anti-price gouging legislation for consumers.

  • June 16, 2011:  All but one Republican voted against additional funds to fight the oil and gas speculators who are driving up the price at the pump.  Instead, Republicans voted to slash the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the agency tasked with policing price manipulation in oil markets, by a stunning 44 percent from the President’s budget.  Speculation in energy markets is at an all-time high, and is costing Americans anywhere between $20-30 for a barrel of oil.
  • May 24, 2011: Republicans voted against considering the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act of 2011 (H.R. 964) which makes it unlawful, during a period proclaimed by the President as an energy emergency, to sell gasoline at a price that is unconscionably excessive or indicates the seller is taking unfair advantage of the circumstances of an emergency to increase prices unreasonably.
  • May 12, 2011:  Republicans rejected efforts to require Big Oil to sell oil produced on taxpayer-owned property to Americans first – to help bring down gas prices — and to call on oil companies to start pumping oil on the public land they already own, or another company will get the lease to drill.
  • May 11, 2011:  Republicans voted against halting new leases to oil companies that still owe fines and penalties for economic and environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • May 11, 2011:  Republicans voted against saving taxpayers billions of dollars by fixing a flaw in 1998 and 1999 leases in the Gulf of Mexico that currently allows oil companies to drill without paying any royalties, which could cost American taxpayers up to $53 billion over the next 25 years. 
  • May 5, 2011:  Republicans voted against saying that if oil is taken from land owned by the American taxpayer, then it should benefit American families for the leases in the GOP drilling legislation. 
  • May 5, 2011:  Republicans rejected an effort to consider legislation that prohibits the Big Five oil companies from receiving unwarranted large tax breaks. 
  • April 15, 2011: House Republicans passed the GOP Budget which retains $40 billion in Big Oil tax loopholes and ends Medicare as we know it. The GOP Budget slashes investments in clean energy for an energy independent future by 70 percent – calling for drastic cuts in energy research and development, and the elimination of subsidies and tax benefits to spur wind, solar power and other alternative energy technologies, which Republicans term “expensive handouts to uncompetitive sources of energy.”
  • March 9, 2011:  Republicans unanimously voted against bringing up the Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act that makes it illegal to sell gasoline at excessive prices and prevents Big Oil from taking advantage of consumers and engaging in price gouging.
  • March 1, 2011: House Republicans unanimously voted against rolling back tax breaks for Big Oil. Republicans voted against an amendment to prohibit large oil companies from receiving certain tax breaks, like the domestic manufacturing deduction in the 2004 international tax law.
  • February 19, 2011:  The Republican ‘So Be It’ Spending Bill slashed investments in the Commodities Futures Trading Commission – the agency charged with policing the country’s futures markets — by one-third at a time when speculation on energy futures, including oil, is at an all-time high. The world’s largest commodity trader, Goldman Sachs, recently told its clients that it believed speculators like itself had artificially driven the price of oil at least $20 higher than supply and demand dictate.  That bill also cut funding for clean renewable energy, including investments in wind and solar energy, advanced vehicle technologies, and cutting-edge research for breakthrough technologies to fuel tomorrow. 
  • February 18, 2011: 95% of House Republicans voted against closing Big Oil loopholes that cost taxpayers billions and making oil companies pay their fair share for drilling on public lands. To reduce the deficit, this amendment would have fixed a flaw in 1998 and 1999 leases in the Gulf of Mexico that allows oil companies to drill without paying any royalties, which could cost American taxpayers up to $53 billion over the next 25 years.

While House Democrats passed multiple bills last Congress to create new clean energy jobs, increase domestic production, and lower our dependence on foreign oil, House Republicans voted against these bills and Senate Republicans blocked them from becoming law.  See the Republican record of supporting of the Bush Administration’s "drill-only" energy policy that led to record profits for Big Oil, even greater U.S. dependence on oil from the Middle East, and record energy costs for America’s working families in the 111th Congress»
In total, over the past four and a half years, Republicans have voted:

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