Senate cloture vote on oil tax bill falls short of needed majority

The Senate voted not to take up a bill which would have reimposed a windfall profits tax on major oil companies as Democrats failed to achieve the three-fifths majority necessary to limit debate for a second time in less than a week.

The Senate rejected a cloture motion on S. 3044, which also would have made it possible for the Department of Justice to prosecute foreign oil producing nations for violating US antitrust laws, by 51 to 43 votes.

Mary L. Landrieu (La.) was the single Democrat to cast a nay vote. Republicans Norm Coleman (Minn.), Susan F. Collins (Me.), Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), Gordon H. Smith (Ore.), Olympia J. Snowe (Me.), John W. Warner (Va.) and Independents Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and Bernard Sanders (Vt.) voted aye.

Debate firmly followed party lines as Democrats called for stronger government efforts to make major oil companies and foreign oil suppliers bear more of the burden of higher oil prices. Republicans said that the bill's provisions were not realistic and would not lead to production of any more oil or gas.

The Senate also rejected a cloture motion to consider H.R. 6049, which was designed to extend financial incentives for alternative and renewable energy research and projects that are due to expire later this year, by 50 to 44 in a later vote.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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