President Obama spoke from the White House's South Lawn this morning, urging Congress to end the $4 billion in tax subsidies oil and natural gas companies receive from the government every year. Obama noted that "Exxon pocketed nearly $4.7 million every hour" last year, and simply doesn't need taxpayer subsidies on top of companies' massive profits.
The president added, "It's like hitting the American people twice."
Soon after, the Senate voted on the issue, and though a majority of members agreed with the president, a majority is no longer enough in the upper chamber.
The Senate on Thursday thwarted Democratic plans to strip billions of dollars in tax breaks from the largest oil companies, just an hour or so after President Obama urged the chamber to kill off the deductions.
Lawmakers voted 51-47 to block Sen. Robert Menendez's (D-N.J.) bill. Sixty votes were needed to advance the measure.
Two Republicans -- Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snow, both from Maine -- crossed party lines and voted to repeal the tax breaks. Four Democrats -- Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (La.), Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jim Webb (Va.) -- voted against the bill.
Even if the bill had gained Senate approval, House passage was extremely unlikely, but the vote will likely play a role in the Democrats' election-year message. Vulnerable incumbents like Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) toed the party line on oil subsidies, and it seems likely that voters in Massachusetts and Nevada will be reminded of this morning's vote in the fall.