Washington The outcome of the vote was hardly a surprise. Democrats knew they probably couldn't overcome a Republican filibuster on a plan to tax billions of dollars in "windfall" profits by the country's biggest oil companies.
Still plenty of anger was on display. After all, the bill was meant to respond to what has the nation fuming - gasoline costing $4 a gallon and going up.
Republican leaders were refusing to even debate a proposal to address "the biggest problem confronting the American people," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
"That takes nerve," she said.
Democratic leaders fell nine votes short of the 60 needed to take up the energy package. Its centerpiece was a 25 percent tax on Big Oil's windfall profits and the stripping away of tax breaks the oil companies have enjoyed. The tax could be avoided if the money were put into alternative fuel projects.
"The American people must be wondering what in God's name is going on in their nation's capital," proclaimed Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont. Expensive gasoline is sending economic waves across the country, threatening everything from summer vacations to Meals on Wheels deliveries to the elderly.
The GOP senators argued that punishing big oil companies won't do a thing to lower prices at the pump. They also said it could curtail domestic oil production and maybe even cause prices to go up, not down.
On world markets, oil prices retreated a bit Tuesday but remained above $131 a barrel. Gasoline prices edged even higher to a nationwide record average of $4.04 a gallon.