This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA) that would have required companies applying for oil drilling permits to disclose bonuses received by their executives. 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.
Keating urged support for his amendment: “As constituents see soaring gas prices, soaring oil prices, oil companies have revealed record profits. The top five multinational oil companies earned over a trillion dollars in the past decade. In my district, where jobs and commerce depends on a coastal marine and tourism economy, I have constituents that are paying up to $4.50 a gallon. These oil firms, these conglomerates, are eating up more and more of our constituents' paychecks. And where is it going? Only a small portion--some estimate as little as 7 percent--are reinvested back into the economy to pay for efficiencies and research into alternatives to oil. Rather, oil companies are providing bumps for stockholders and high bonuses to their company executives--a pat on the back for high prices at the pump. Remember that up to 90 percent of the tax subsidy money given to executives and companies by the taxpayers went to buybacks for preferred stock purchases. My amendment would provide transparency to the U.S. taxpayer.”
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) opposed Keating’s amendment: “This amendment presents…one more distraction from the very purpose of this bill. It is a distraction for our colleagues. I understand that they want to oppose this bill, but I believe they ought to oppose the bill on its merits. If they want to oppose the bill, vote `no' on the bill. If they want to offer constructive amendments, then introduce amendments to try to improve the bill, but presenting red herring amendments in amendment after amendment ought to be defeated. Aside from the distraction that this amendment creates, there is no real need for this amendment from a practical perspective. If an interested person wants to know the amounts of bonuses paid to an oil company executive, the information is available. As it is a publicly owned company, it's already available. I don't believe we require bonus disclosure when environmental groups apply for grants. When a staffer helps out on a particular piece of legislation when we introduce the bill, I don't believe that we have disclosure on a bonus to a staffer.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 167-258. Voting “yea” were 161 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 6 Republicans. 229 Republicans and 29 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have required companies applying for oil drilling permits to disclose bonuses received by their executives.