Congressman Rehberg leaves Montana, returns to subsidies for his old friends in Big Oil

Two weeks ago, Congressman Dennis Rehberg attended a fundraiser hosted by a BP executive and other big oil interests on the anniversary of the disastrous BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico [Roll Call, 4/21/11].

Yesterday, Congressman Rehberg voted against ending giveaways for big oil [Roll Call Vote #293, 5/5/11]. This vote comes in spite of promising Montanans last week that ending subsidies for oil companies “is on the table”.

"Congressman Rehberg pays lip service to Montanans about solutions, but he only delivers for his old friends in Big Oil after collecting their checks.” said Ted Dick, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party.  “Doublespeak is nothing new from Montana’s millionaire Congressman, and neither is his blind loyalty to Big Oil.”

Over the course of his career in Congress, Rehberg has taken nearly $300,000 from oil and gas companies [Center for Responsive Politics, Accessed 4/26/11], and he has voted against ending giveaways for big oil just as consistently.

Here’s a timeline that details Congressman Rehberg’s cozy relationship with Big Oil:

May 5, 2011 –Yesterday, Rehberg voted to block a vote on a motion to repeal the Section 199 domestic manufacturing tax credit for the five largest oil companies.  [Vote 293, 5/05/11].

April 20, 2011 – Rehberg Attended Fundraiser Co-Hosted by Lobbying Director of BP on Anniversary of BP Oil Spill. As reported by Roll Call, “Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg, a Republican challenging Sen. Jon Tester (D), attended a fundraiser in Denver on Wednesday headlined by former elected officials and several executives from companies with a presence in the region, including British Petroleum. The event took place on the one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and according to an invitation obtained by Roll Call, it was co-hosted by Chad Calvert, a director of government and public affairs at BP America.” [Roll Call, 4/21/11]

February 18, 2011 – Congressman Rehberg Opposed Reducing Deficit By $53 Billion By Closing Loophole Allowing Oil Companies to Avoid Paying Royalties. In February 2011, Rehberg voted against the Markey (MA) Amendment (#27) that required oil companies that hold royalty-free leases allowing them to drill for free on the public's offshore lands to renegotiate those leases so that the public is paid the standard royalty charged for drilling. (GAO estimates that closing this loophole could save up to $53 billion over 25 years) [HR 1, House Roll Call Vote #109, 2/18/11]. The amendment would have saved $1.5 billion in 2011, $53 billion over 10 years [Times-Picayune, 2/18/11].

2008 – Congressman Rehberg Voted to Protect Tax Breaks for Oil Companies. In 2008, Rehberg voted against a motion to end debate on the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act and allow for the House to vote on the legislation. The bill comprehensively invested resources into wind, solar, and geothermal energy systems.  Furthermore, it extended tax credits to producers of cleaner burning bio-diesel and cellulosic alcohol based fuels.  [Release, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, 2/27/08] The legislation also eliminated a manufacturing tax deduction for larger oil and gas companies.  The motion passed, 214-189 [HR 5351, Vote #80, 2/27/08].

2007 – Congressman Rehberg Voted to Give Subsidies to Oil Companies. In 2007, Rehberg voted against an amendment that would cut subsidies to energy companies for fossil fuels research and development by $142 million. According to the amendment’s sponsor, Representative John Kline (R-MN), the amendment was an attempt to make oil companies pay for fossil fuel research and development as opposed to taxpayers, particularly in light of the record profits being made by oil, gas and coal companies.” [Congressional Record, 6/19/07, Page:  6706] The amendment was defeated 123-303 [HR 2641, Vote #511, 6/19/07].

2006 – Congressman Rehberg Opposed Removing Tax Breaks for Big Oil Companies from Tax Bill. In 2006, Rehberg voted against a motion to instruct conferees negotiating H.R. 4297, the Tax Reconciliation Bill. The motion would instruct House conferees to 1) accept three bipartisan provisions from the Senate that would remove subsidies and close loopholes for large integrated oil companies, so that big oil companies would pay their fair share of taxes, and 2) strike the extension of the capital gains and dividend tax cuts. The total for these two proposals was $51 billion. In 2005, the top five oil companies reaped more than $100 million, three times their profits in 2002. [McDermott Talking Points, “Republicans Fight for Big Oil Subsidies and Loopholes”]The motion failed 190-232  [HR4297, Vote #109, 4/27/06].

Congressman Rehberg has received $293,651 from the oil and gas industry over the course of his career [Center for Responsive Politics, 4/26/11].

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