A BOLD STAND IN SUPPORT OF SUBSIDIES FOR BIG OIL…. Before the House approved a measure to keep the government open until March 18, Democrats took full advantage of their motion-to-recommit power. Indeed, they’re getting better at this.

Two weeks ago, before a vote to extend the Patriot Act, Dems used this maneuver to get nearly every Republican in the House to vote against a measure that said, “When investigating American citizens, the government must comply with the Constitution.”

Yesterday, it was another motion that may very well end up in some 2012 campaign ads.

Democrats are committed to fiscal responsibility and to ensuring that government lives within its means. With Big Oil raking in record profits, House Democrats offered a Motion to Recommit to the House Republican short-term spending bill this afternoon making a responsible cut to the budget: putting an end to taxpayer-funded subsidies to large oil companies. […]

Rep. William Keating (D-MA) offered the motion on the House floor saying “let’s stop sending taxpayers’ money to the most profitable companies in the world.”

Republicans voted unanimously against the motion, defeating it by a vote of 176-249.

Here’s the roll call on the vote. A total of 236 Republicans voted, and all of them opposed the effort to end public subsidies for oil companies.

For the typical American, I suspect this will seem hard to understand. In the face of fiscal challenges, Republicans are ready to slash funding in education, health care, job training, and national security, but they’re not willing to end taxpayer subsidies — our money — for the oil industry? An industry that’s already enjoying extraordinary profits?

Also note, ending the subsidies would save the federal government tens of billions of dollars, making a significant dent in the deficit-reduction campaign that Republicans pretend to care about. It’s a reminder that the GOP’s commitment to fiscal responsibility is shaped in large part by who’ll suffer as a result of the cuts — working families can feel the brunt of the budget ax, under the GOP vision, but ExxonMobil can’t.

Every time Americans go to the pump — which is becoming more painful all the time — Democrats want consumers to remember, “You’re not only paying higher prices for gas, your tax dollars, thanks to Republicans, are also subsidizing the oil companies themselves.”

Just a few weeks ago, former Shell Oil CEO John Hofmeister acknowledged reality, conceding that his industry doesn’t need the government subsidies. Regrettably, congressional Republicans disagree.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.