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Senators who protected Big Oil's welfare got $23.5 million

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Richard Burr bought for half million dollars

When Democrats in the United States Senate brought up a bill this week to put an end to $24 billion in taxpayer-funded welfare for Big Oil, the industry won.

That's not to say that a majority of Senators voted to keep spending your money to pad Big Oil's record profits - they actually voted 51-47 to stop the madness. But under the rules of our broken U.S. Senate, the bill needed 60 votes to break a Republican-led filibuster.

How did Big Oil wrangle up enough votes to keep the gravy train flowing? They paid the 47 Senators who voted with them over $23.5 million dollars:

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.

One of the 47 Senators to vote against ending this outrageous corporate welfare was our own Senator Richard Burr, who has himself received $549,852 from Big Oil, half of that since 2006. On the other hand, Senator Kay Hagan, who voted to end taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil, has received $17,550 from the industry.

The top five biggest oil companies - BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell - made a combined $137 billion in profits in 2011. They spent over $65.7 million dollars lobbying Congress to protect their sweet, sweet welfare.

Despite earning such massive profits and despite our paying them, supposedly, to produce more oil, these five companies actually produced 4 percent less oil in 2011 compared to 2010.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) told his colleagues - in vain - that Americans are already paying the salaries oil executives when they pay at the pump and called continuing Big Oil's corporate welfare "immoral":

“Working people are struggling to fill up their tanks while oil executives are struggling to carry their big fat paychecks to the bank.”

Now that gas prices are on the rise, Big Oil profits will soar even higher with as much as an additional $5 billion flowing out of the pockets of the 99 percent and into its corporate treasuries - treasuries from which, thanks to the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, Big Oil can buy more politicians to do its bidding.