Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding legislation to repeal subsidies for big oil companies raking in record profits, and on tightening sanctions against Iran. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Yesterday, the Senate took the first step toward repealing wasteful taxpayer giveaways to oil and gas companies.
I was pleased that my Republican colleagues joined Senate Democrats to move this debate forward.
The country deserves to hear the truth about double dipping by oil companies: they take taxpayer money with one hand and raise prices at the pump with the other hand.
But don’t be fooled by last night’s bipartisan vote. Senate Republicans will never side with American taxpayers against Big Oil. It’s against their nature.
They proved it yesterday with rhetoric. And they proved it last year, with a nearly party-line vote against legislation to roll back billions in handouts to oil companies making record profits.
But despite Republican rhetoric, Americans understand it will take more than bumper sticker slogans to stop the pain at the pump.
We have to reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign oil. But we can’t drill our way to energy independence.
We must continuing looking for responsible, new, domestic oil sources. But we must also invest in the clean energy technologies of tomorrow to create good jobs today.
Repealing almost $24 billion in wasteful subsidies to oil companies would pay for those clean energy investments – with money left over to reduce the deficit.
America has only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, but consumes 20 percent of the world’s oil supply each year.
So drilling on American soil alone won’t solve our reliance on foreign oil.
Last year, America used a lower percentage of foreign oil than at any time in almost two decades, thanks to the Administration’s policies.
Domestic oil production has increased every year President Obama has been in office. Meanwhile, the America’s dependence on foreign oil has decreased each year.
Yet prices at the pump have continued to rise.
Here is why: for every penny the price at the pump goes up, the five major oil companies make an additional $200 million in profits each quarter.
Gas prices have risen 62 cents this year. Each of those 62 pennies represents pain for American consumers – and billions in profits for Big Oil.
Last year, Big Oil raked in a record $137 billion in profits. And they’re on pace for another year of astronomical profits.
So it is beyond ridiculous when Republicans argue that oil companies need billions in taxpayer subsidies each year.
Middle-class families are struggling. Oil companies that last year raked in $261,000 a minute – 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year – are not.
It should be obvious that America needs to reduce its reliance on foreign oil. But if anyone needs another reason, just look at the regimes that benefit from the global addiction to oil.
For example, Iran uses profits from global oil sales to support its terronuclear weapons program.
So it is critical that the Senate act now – and act quickly – to further tighten sanctions against Iran. These sanctions are a key tool as we work to stop them from obtaining a nuclear weapon, threatening Israel and ultimately jeopardizing U.S. national security.
The only way to get sanctions in place immediately is to take up a bipartisan bill that passed unanimously out of the Senate Banking Committee.
I have alerted the Republican Leader that I will soon ask consent to move forward on this measure.
Unfortunately, I understand my Republican colleagues will object to moving forward with these new sanctions because they want to offer additional amendments.
But new changes to the bill at this time will only slow down its passage.
There are a number of Democrats who would also like to offer amendments to this bill. But in an effort to get sanctions in place as quickly as possible, Democrats have agreed to streamline the process and refrain from offering their amendments.
We cannot afford to slow down this process.
Passing this bill immediately will help prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And that is a goal we can all agree on.