U.S. Rep. Tim BIshop. (November 3, 2010)

U.S. Rep. Tim BIshop. (November 3, 2010) Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Long Island's congressional Democrats Thursday called for an end to tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies as quarterly profits and consumer gasoline prices both continued to climb.

"I find it simply outrageous that in the face of record profits, the American taxpayer is still being asked to subsidize oil companies," said Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton). "It is outrageous."

Bishop and other Long Island Democrats want a congressional vote to end the federal assistance, which amounts to more than $4 billion annually to U.S.-based oil companies.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has encouraged the Senate leadership to hold a vote to rescind the oil subsidies as soon as next week, her spokeswoman said. But such a vote in the GOP-controlled House is not likely.

"The Speaker wants to increase the supply of American energy to lower gas prices and create millions of American jobs," said Michael Steel, the spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). "Raising taxes will increase gas prices and make it harder to create jobs."

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) echoed that opinion. He accused Democrats of engaging in "class warfare" and said the way to lower gas prices is to expand oil drilling to places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

"Why attack people for profits?" King said. "Who do we go after next?"

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights) said people should "write down the names" of Republicans who oppose lifting the oil company tax breaks in a time of record profits.

"People pocketing that amount of money is an obscenity," Ackerman said. "People can't heat their homes or cool their homes this summer. I'm angry."

And Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) said ExxonMobil's profit report shows the company can do without its federal tax breaks.

"These subsidies are a just a form of financial aid to the most profitable oil companies on Earth," he said. "The profits are proof that the subsidies aren't necessary."

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