Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Tomorrow’s Commerce Committee Hearing On Transparency In Oil Markets And Senate Democrats Continued Work To Lower Costs For American People

April 4, 2022

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the actions Senate Democrats are taking to lower costs for the American people, including passing bipartisan ocean shipping reform and holding hearings on oil markets. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

This week, the confirmation of Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court will remain the Senate’s highest priority by far. But Senate Democrats will continue our work to lower costs for the American people. 

Last week, little-noticed but quite important, the Senate passed the bipartisan ocean shipping reform spearheaded by Senators Klobuchar, and Thune, and Cantwell. This is very significant and much-needed legislation that will reduce costs for the American people, by unclogging our ports from Los Angeles to New York to Savanna to Seattle. These backlogs have caused not only great harm for American exporters trying to send their products out in the world, it’s also skyrocketed the price of goods coming into the country too, and ultimately American consumers pay that price. I commend my colleagues for getting this important bill done.

This week, the Senate is also close to entering a conference committee with the House to finalize our jobs and competitiveness legislation.

And tomorrow, Chair Cantwell will turn the focus of the Commerce Committee to an urgent matter for the American people: ensuring transparency in petroleum markets.

We all know that big oil companies are dramatically expanding corporate stock buybacks and reporting record profits while Americans struggle with higher gas prices.

Just today, this is so confounding, so upsetting, ExxonMobil indicated that its profits this quarter will be the highest since 2008. And then what are they going to do with this surplus cash? They have announced that in the coming months they will spend $10 billion on corporate stock buybacks. According to Bloomberg, oil and gas companies’ stock buybacks were up two thousand percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

Using that to enhance worker productivity? Nope.

Using that to do something some people might object to? Increasing exploration for oil and gas? Nope.

Lining the pockets of their shareholders and their corporate executives in stock buybacks which do nothing, absolutely nothing to advance the American economy or to deal with the oil crisis. Maybe instead of giving the money to the shareholders, they should give money to their customers by lowering the price.

It’s the latest reminder of a disturbing trend with the oil and gas companies: as the price of gas goes up, and as Americans are struggling more and more to keep up, the nation’s largest oil companies are up to their eyeballs in massive profits and then use that money for unproductive stock buybacks, which if anything increase income inequality at a time when the country needs to decrease it.

There is something deeply incongruous and wrong about seeing the largest oil companies and gas companies in the world drench top executives and wealthy shareholders in cash while Americans are struggling at the pump, and I thank Chair Cantwell for holding tomorrow’s hearing so we can provide accountability, transparency and relief, hopefully, for the American people.