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Imposing a Minimum Effective Tax Rate for High-Income Taxpayers-- Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I come to the floor to offer amendments to this bill. Let me assure our colleague from Illinois that they are not amendments about contraception or any other unrelated issue. They are energy amendments, which go directly to one of the greatest challenges all of our constituents, fellow citizens, face, which is the ever-rising price at the pump.

I am glad we are on this Menendez bill, because at least it puts us on that major challenge that faces Louisiana's lower to middle-class families, and those families in Illinois, and all around the country. I bring amendments that are directly relevant to that.

The first amendment has to do with supply. First of all, let me say why I oppose the Menendez bill.

It is because when we tax something at a higher level, when we increase the tax on it, we get less of it. So it will produce less energy, in particular less U.S. domestic energy. When we lower supply, we increase the price. It is not only not going to have a positive impact on the price at the pump, it will increase the price and have a negative impact.

I take the opposite approach. We need to increase supply, starting with activity and supply right here at home in the United States. So my amendment, offered along with Senator Murkowski of Alaska, No. 1965, would do that. It would replace President Obama's current 5-year plan for Outer Continental Shelf leasing with basically the plan that existed previously, which is double President Obama's plan.

So President Obama's plan, which he put in place after coming into office, is about half of the previous plan. It backs us up and turns us around, moving us in the wrong direction. Amendment No. 1965 would turn us back, move us in the right direction, and adopt pretty much that previous plan--to expand our access to our own U.S. energy resources offshore.

UNANIMOUS REQUESTS--S. 2204

So, Mr. President, with that said, I ask unanimous consent that when the Senate returns to consideration of S. 2204, the pending energy tax bill, it be in order for me to offer amendment No. 1965, which I have authored along with Senator Murkowski.

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, that is unfortunate. It is particularly unfortunate because everyone knows our leader and everyone on our side has absolutely agreed to offer energy amendments and give the other side an equal number of energy amendments. We are perfectly agreeable to that, and everybody knows that.

It is in that context that I bring up another energy amendment, our amendment No. 1997. This has to do with another huge opportunity we have in the United States right here at home; that is, enormous oil resources we can get from western shale. Quoting the Institute for Energy Research:

USGS estimates that unconventional U.S. oil shale resources hold 2.6 trillion barrels of oil, with about 1 trillion barrels that are considered recoverable under current economic and technological conditions. These 1 trillion barrels are nearly four times the amount of oil reserves as Saudi Arabia's proven oil reserves.

That is the potential we have right here in this country--enormous reserves, available now, recoverable now. So what is the problem? Well, one big problem is the Obama administration has canceled all leases to access this oil shale. There was movement to properly, responsibly access that 1 trillion barrels, but that has been canceled under the Obama administration.

My amendment, No. 1997--again, obviously, an energy amendment that can affect prices at the pump--would expedite movement toward that important resource and would get us moving again in the right direction, accessing that U.S. energy resource.

With that said, Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that when the Senate returns to consideration of S. 2204, the pending energy tax bill, it be in order for me to offer that amendment No. 1997.

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, if I can wrap up, again, I think this is unfortunate. Everybody knows Republicans are perfectly willing to limit ourselves to relevant energy amendments. That is what we are doing. That is what we are bringing to the floor. Leader McConnell has offered that. He has offered to have a like number of energy amendments from the Democratic side. What is happening is we are being completely shut down and shut out.

The main issue is not that I am aggrieved, the main issue is the American people are being shut out. The folks I represent--the folks all of us represent--are being shut out from offering good, sensible ideas to at least debate and vote on which would access more American energy, more U.S. energy, to help solve the pressing problem of the price at the pump in that way. Let's control our own destiny in that way.

This is a sensible solution. It is a major solution. It will move us in the right direction.

I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.

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