Much needed financial aid for Ukraine to fight back Putin’s brutal invasion has been delayed while special interests in America demand greater profits for Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Gas.
If such a thing happened in any other developed country in the world, many of these U.S. Senators would be in prison, or at least barred from office and paying huge fines.
Sabotage Ukraine aid because your donors paid you to? Sabotage your own country’s energy and environmental policies because your donors promise you millions of dollars?
In every other advanced democracy in the world, that is called bribery and corruption and is criminal behavior.
Not only are such corrupt politicians held accountable by the legal systems of most other democracies; if word of their paid shilling became public they would never get re-elected to their existing positions and probably couldn’t even win an election as dog-catcher.
But here in America, thanks to five radicals on the Supreme Court, it is perfectly legal for legislators to take piles of cash from Big Oil and the billionaires it is made and then openly — proudly — trash America and abandon other democracies like Ukraine.
The Biden administration requested an emergency $10 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine attached to the federal budget. House Majority Whip Stenny Hoyer (D-MD), who is in charge of shepherding legislation in the House into law, pushed as hard as he could and got what he thought was a firm commitment for a congressional vote on March 8.
Full contemporary funding of the federal government has already been dragged out over the past year with stunts by Republicans like Rick Scott, whose contribution to slowing the legislative process in the Senate was to block legislation to fund the Post Office. But that was a few weeks ago; Hoyer and Schumer still thought they could get funding through the Senate and onto the President’s desk quickly.
Until, of course, Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby announced that he wants, as CNBC’s Ylan Q. Mui reported, “a better sense of how much unspent money remains.” That, of course, will drag things out another week or two, perfect for Putin to wipe the floor with the blood of the children of Ukraine.
Shelby was joined in blocking the new legislation as part of the 2022 budget by both oil-state senators from Louisiana, Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, using a BS excuse that they wanted an accounting for disaster relief funds allocated from previous years in the 2020 budget.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the head of the Appropriations Committee overseeing it all, said, “They haven’t said a word to me about it, so I don’t know what to say.” It is all just performance art for the benefit of the GOP’s paymasters in the fossil fuel industry.
And then there was Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn holding up the federal budget for two full weeks while Putin built his forces on the Ukraine border because of “crack pipes.” She says she is worried about America’s opioid addiction epidemic. As the Tennessee Lookout noted:
“Since Blackburn first ran for Congress in 2002, she has taken more than $1 million in contributions from pharmaceutical companies or health PACs, many associated with the same companies making opioid painkillers or distributing them across rural America.
“As a congresswoman in 2014, she co-sponsored the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act. That’s a nice name for a bill that was written by a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist, and one that significantly hinders the government’s ability to halt suspicious shipments of narcotics.”
Republican legislators are taking turns coming up with increasingly bizarre excuses to delay passage of the 2022/23 budget. More legislative delays, more Ukrainian deaths. Putin is smiling.
Because of GOP obstruction, in the midst of the Russian rape of Ukraine, the United States is still running on Donald Trump’s last budget, signed into law by Trump in December of 2020.
Let that sink in: Republicans are forcing the Biden administration to fiscally hold its breath on a two-year-old budget that reflects Trump’s priorities instead of Biden’s. And has not one word in it for Ukraine.
And they appear committed to holding up the 2022/23 budget legislation until after this fall’s elections, so, if they win back either the House or Senate, they can make sure that President Biden never, throughout his entire first four years, will have been able to run the country according to his own budget and priorities.
But that is just the start. Back on February 17, as the world watched Russian forces mass along the Ukrainian border, 27 Republican senators put the Biden administration on notice that their top priority was not passing a budget but, instead, exploiting the Ukraine crisis to increase the profits of the oil, coal and gas industries.
Those senators, who have received, according to OpenSecrets.org and Judd Legum’s Popular.info newsletter, “a combined total of $4,270,530 from oil and gas industry PACS” and “nearly $6 million from executives and other employees of oil and gas companies,” are not doing what is best for America: they’re nakedly shilling for the industries that line their pockets, fly them around in private jets, and wine and dine them.
In most European countries (except Orbán’s Hungary) they would be called, at the very least, “corrupt.” The lead author of their letter, Louisiana Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, “has received $294,600 from oil and gas industry PACs and $290,084 from oil and gas industry employees since 2017.”
March 1, the day before the State of the Union address, 23 Republican senators openly declared their loyalty to the fossil fuel industry, demanding that the Biden administration move away from promoting green energy or regulating fossil fuel pollution and let the oil barons have their way with us and our atmosphere.
In response to the Russian attack on Ukraine, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley lied in a tweet that the Biden administration had reduced America’s energy independence (the opposite is true), while coal/gas/oil shilling Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines issued a statement demanding that, because of Ukraine, “Biden must restart the Keystone XL pipeline now.”
Which is rather bizarre when you think of it, because that pipeline is not carrying American fossil fuels; it is a line from Canada to the refineries on the Gulf Coast so its products can be sold for export. But, hey, when you are sucking in millions of dollars in ways the Supreme Court legalized with Citizens United, the truth and the fate of future generations are sooo easy to ignore.
Fortunately, not all the politicians of the developed world are on the take, and other nations’ politicians are willing to do something about both Ukraine and the way fossil fuels are ravaging our planet.
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen — a politician who is not taking money from Big Oil or American oligarchs — pointed out that the one thing the western world could do to most cripple Russia’s President Putin is to turn even more rapidly to renewables.
If Europe stops buying his oil and thus cuts fossil fuel consumption so much that prices drop, it will badly hurt Putin’s ability to fund his military.
Forty percent of the Russian economy comes from exporting fossil fuels, after all: if the world goes with renewables, Putin will find himself trying to sell into a market with no buyers.
“A strong European Union cannot be so reliant on an energy supplier that threatens to start a war on our continent,” von der Leyen told a group of European legislators. “We are doubling down on renewables. This will increase Europe’s strategic independence on energy.”
Both the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress are saying the same thing, but Republicans, beholden to fossil fuel billionaires and the massive oil corporations the Supreme Court has allowed to buy them, are trying to use this moment to pump even more of that industry’s very profitable poisons into our atmosphere.
The EU committed to “a 40 percent reduction in fossil fuel use” in the next 8 years and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared that Germany can now last a year or more with no Russian fossil fuels and is working to make that permanent.
That is how a rational nation responds to a petrostate like Russia committing massive war crimes.
But here in the US, the fossil fuel industry continues to inject millions into the political veins of virtually every Republican in the US Congress and state legislatures across the country.
In the process, they are blocking aid to Ukraine, damaging the security of our nation, destroying our atmosphere, and consigning America’s and the world’s children to an increasingly unimaginable hellscape of war, wildfires, drought, flooding and famine.
Vladimir Putin must be smiling ear-to-ear.
Еmiliо Morеnattі and Pеtеr Lаzаr
© Thom Hartmann, used with permission. Originally published on The Hartmann Report as Why Big Oil & the GOP are Sabotaging Ukraine, America, Our Atmosphere & Our Next Generation
Subscribe to The Hartmann Report directly and read the latest views about U.S politics and other fascinating subjects seven days a week.