In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Democrats' Oil Subsidy Repeal Bill Is Actually Unconstitutional


He and most of the Dem caucus couldn't be happier that their Republican counterparts are circling their wagons around big oil companies to protect their multi-billion dollar annual tax subsidies. And they'll have great fodder for attack ads starting Tuesday night, when a Senate bill that would rescind those subsidies is expected to fail along party lines.

But even if by some miracle it passes, it would have to be shelved. In their zeal to put Republicans on the spot, Democrats neglected one key technicality: eliminating tax loopholes raises revenues, and any legislation that raises revenues must, according to the Constitution, originate in the House of Representatives.

This is mainly a technical concern. Senate Republicans have made clear they won't allow the bill to move forward, and Democrats say they plan to attack these subsidies in other venues.

"I am confident that before we finish our budget negotiations here, and in anticipation of raising the debt ceiling, that that will be part of it," Reid said.

But the fact that Dems didn't bother with the technical stuff underscores the extent to which this campaign -- and tonight's vote in particular -- is meant for the cameras.

About The Author


Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at