House Bill Would Give Oil Companies $17B Tax Increase

The House is going to make another run at imposing more than $17 billion in taxes on major oil companies.

An aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially said plans were to take up the bill Wednesday, but after looking at a tight schedule it was decided to postpone action until likely next week.

Final numbers have yet to be worked out, but the legislation will mirror an energy tax package that passed the House last year. That legislation was abandoned as part of negotiations in December on a broader energy bill.

"Given this week's limited schedule, we wanted members to have more time to review the proposal," said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.

The House Ways and Means Committee was crafting the final legislation, including $17.65 billion in taxes on oil companies over 10 years.

When pushed by Democrats last year, the tax measures — one that would rescind tax breaks on foreign oil production and another aimed at making domestic manufacturers competitive with foreign companies — prompted strong opposition from Senate Republicans and the White House. President Bush pledged a veto if the taxes were included.

After passing the House in August, the tax package was finally abandoned to get a major increase in automobile fuel economy and other energy measures approved and signed by Bush in December.

But congressional Democrats believe the oil taxes have a better shot this time, given the huge profits recently reported by the major oil companies for last year.

Exxon Mobil Corp. earned $40.6 billion in 2007, besting its own record for annual profits. Chevron Corp., No. 2 U.S. oil company, also had its best year ever in 2007, reporting a profit of $18.7 billion.

The new tax revenue would be used to pay for a wide range of tax breaks for the wind, solar and biofuels industries as well as to support energy conservation measures.