- - Tuesday, May 10, 2011

SENATE

Bill would pull plug on Big Oil subsidies

A group of Senate Democrats introduced a bill Tuesday that calls for an end to taxpayer-funded subsidies to the five biggest oil companies.

“At a time when families are feeling the pain at the pump and our deficit keeps growing at an alarming rate, we simply can’t afford to keep giving away billions in taxpayer handouts to oil companies that are doing nothing to help lower prices,” said Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Another sponsor, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, said that if Congress is to get serious about reducing the national debt, “We can no longer afford to keep giving away taxpayers’ money to the most profitable companies in the world.”

Other sponsors of the measure are Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jon Tester of Montana.

The Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act would repeal or revise several tax rules that allow oil companies to deduct a portion of their costs for such endeavors as oil exploration and drilling. The savings would be used to help reduce the deficit.

HOUSE

Hoyer opposes Obama’s proposal for donor disclosures

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, opposes a White House proposal to require anyone seeking government business to disclose political contributions.

Mr. Hoyer said government contractors should be chosen on the merits of their applications, their bids and their capabilities.

“It’s not a requirement now. I don’t think it ought to be a requirement,” he told reporters Tuesday. “So I’m not in agreement with the administration on that issue.”

President Obama’s proposed executive order was drafted April 13 but has not been issued. It would require a contractor to disclose political contributions and expenditures made within two years of submitting a bid.

MONTANA

Deal will ease backlog of imperiled species

BILLINGS — The Obama administration on Tuesday announced a deal with environmentalists to work through a backlog list of more than 250 imperiled animals and plants in order to determine which merit federal protection.

Interior Department officials said the proposal stems from a court agreement with WildEarth Guardians, one in a handful of groups that have filed hundreds of legal actions against the agency over its handling of species such as the greater sage grouse and Canada lynx.

Those are on a long list of fish, birds, mammals, plants and snails that scientists say need greater protections under the Endangered Species Act. But with too few resources to cover restoration costs, federal officials have put them on a waiting list of “candidates” for greater protections. Some of the species have languished on that list for more than 30 years.

TEXAS

Lawmakers pass bill to prioritize immigration

AUSTIN — Texas lawmakers have approved a measure that would force local police to give federal immigration offenses the same priority as other crimes.

The vote in the Texas House came just before midnight, and ahead of President Obama’s planned Tuesday speech in the state on America’s “broken immigration system.”

The proposed law doesn’t go as far as Arizona’s requirement that police check immigration status, but it bans cities or departments from telling officers not to actively enforce immigration laws.

The approach reflects the careful path Texas Republicans have tried to take between meeting conservative demands for tougher immigration measures and alienating a growing Hispanic population.

Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, declared the measure to be emergency legislation, saying local law enforcement agencies were not doing enough to catch and deport illegal immigrants.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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