Political Notebook

GOP oil plan is voted down

May 19, 2011

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WASHINGTON — With Democrats citing last year’s oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico as a cautionary tale, the Senate yesterday rejected a Republican plan to allow more coastal oil and gas exploration and to speed the issuance of drilling permits to oil companies.

The 57-42 vote against the measure came after Republicans on Tuesday rejected a Democratic plan to end tax breaks for oil companies as both parties sought to gain political advantage with consumers contending with high gas prices.

Republicans said the measure proposed by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, was a common-sense approach to lowering gas prices by trying to influence the market through increased production.

“Instead of punishing a handful of companies within the oil and gas industry, we provide new opportunities to put Americans back to work,’’ said Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska. Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, a Republican, voted for the bill, and his Democratic counterpart, John F. Kerry, voted against it.

Democrats dismissed the Republican plan as a risky effort to accelerate drilling without the necessary safeguards in place. Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the number-two Democrat in the Senate, said, “You would think that the BP spill never happened if you consider this bill.’’

Lawmakers said it would take a concerted bipartisan effort by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to make progress on an energy bill that could clear Congress.

Democrats say they will push to make sure that any deal to raise the federal debt limit this summer incorporates limits on tax breaks for the five major oil companies, a plan they say will save $21 billion over 10 years.— NEW YORK TIMES

Huntsman likely to base his campaign in Orlando
WASHINGTON — If former Utah governor Jon Huntsman decides to join the Republican presidential race as expected, he would base his campaign in Orlando.

A campaign based in Central Florida would show how seriously the former ambassador to China is taking the state in the primary and the general elections, Huntsman aides said yesterday. Huntsman’s wife, Mary Kaye, grew up in the area and her family still lives there, they said.

The aides spoke on the condition of anonymity because Huntsman has not decided to make his run official. But Huntsman was set to make a weekend visit to New Hampshire and has already visited South Carolina, another early nominating state. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Facebook to defend its online privacy measures
WASHINGTON — Facebook Inc. will tell lawmakers that it has “robust privacy protections’’ during a Senate hearing today on mobile privacy, according to a summary of testimony released by the company.

Facebook chief technology officer Bret Taylor is scheduled to testify before a Senate Commerce subcommittee about consumer privacy and mobile devices. Executives from Apple Inc. and Google Inc. are also on the panel’s witness list.

Technology companies are facing increasing congressional scrutiny over use customer information.

Facebook “expects and requires’’ developers of applications and websites that connect to its service to be “responsible stewards’’ of user information, according to the summary. Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Commerce Committee, said he sent letters to Apple and Google asking them whether applications that run on their mobile platforms comply with online privacy laws for children. — BLOOMBERG NEWS