This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) that would have required oil and gas companies to disclose all federal subsidies they receive on applications for oil drilling permits. This amendment was offered to legislation that would loosen regulations on air pollution caused by oil and gas drilling. In addition, the underlying oil drilling bill would eliminate the Environmental Review Board’s authority to review applications for oil drilling leases.
Welch urged support for his amendment: “We have many in this body [the House of Representatives], myself among them, who believe that these subsidies are too rich and they're unnecessary. When oil company profits are a trillion dollars in the past year, when the price of oil has been hovering between $95 and $113 a barrel, when the companies have enjoyed record profits this year, the question arises by me and by many as to whether or not it makes sense to ask the taxpayers to reach into their pockets and to provide subsidies to a mature industry--an important industry, but a mature industry and a very profitable industry with a very high-priced product where they can generate and are succeeding in generating significant profits for that industry. This is not about whether they're doing good or they're doing bad--we have oil companies that are doing their job--but it is about whether taxpayers should be, at the very minimum, made explicitly aware as to how much it is they're being asked to subsidize oil companies when they seek these leases.”
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) opposed Welch’s amendment: “The Welch amendment requires a company applying for a permit to provide data on `oil subsidies provided by the federal government.’…this is an absolute red herring. There's no definition of `oil subsidy.' That's intentional. The gentleman who proffered this amendment [Rep. Welch] is an attorney. He ought to know better. I don't know what oil subsidies to which he's referring….What Mr. Welch is really interested in… what this amendment really does is it attempts to punish oil companies for producing American energy and American jobs. This [underlying] piece of legislation, H.R. 2021, will do just that, and this amendment attempts to stop it.”
The House rejected Welch’s amendment by a vote of 183-238. Voting “yea” were 173 Democrats and 10 Republicans. 222 Republicans and 16 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have required oil and gas companies to disclose all federal subsidies they receive on applications for oil drilling permits.