On Friday, the U.S. Senate voted to approve H.J.Res. 41, a resolution that destroys a key protection used by the Securities and Exchange Commission to prevent the involvement of American oil companies in corruption with foreign governments. The anti-corruption measure the Senate voted to kill, known as the Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers Rule, had created a deterrent for bribery by requiring American corporations to report the payments they make to foreign governments.
Senate Republicans have also argued that because some ordinary fees might be mixed in with oil company bribes to foreign governments, all bribery by oil companies should be kept secret from the American people. However, such reporting isn’t difficult, given that corporations already keep records of such payments. Oil companies have nothing to hide in revealing legitimate legal payments, as it’s already public knowledge where, how, and how much oil companies drill in foreign territories.
U.S. Representative Bill Huizinga and Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute have both claimed that it will be an unfair economic burden on American oil companies if they are prohibited from bribing foreign governments. However, bribery of government officials isn’t a legal or legitimate means of gaining business advantage. That Republican politicians are now defending bribery as if it is an acceptable business practice shows how deep the swamp of corruption in Washington D.C. has become.
52 Republican senators voted in favor of making oil company bribery of government officials secret. 45 Democratic senators voted against the measure. The two current independent U.S. senators, Angus King and Bernie Sanders, both voted against the legislation.