How Much Did Seven House Votes Pushing Keystone XL Cost Taxpayers?

News broke recently that the 37 House votes to repeal Obamacare cost taxpayers $55 million. The House has voted for Keystone XL eight times, and Oil Change International says the House members who voted for it took six times as much money from the oil industry as their colleagues who voted against. Those votes cost Big Oil $36 million. How much did they cost us, the taxpayers?

Turns out it’s pretty much impossible to calculate the cost of any House activity. The Congressional Research Service refuses to offer estimates, calling it “methodologically impossible.”

The $55 million figure for the Obamacare repeal votes is extrapolated from a number in a CBS report from last year, on the occasion of the House Republicans’ 33rd vote to repeal Obamacare, and Politifact says it is so rough an estimate that it amounts to a false claim.

But let’s play anyway!

CBS calculated that it took 80 hours for the first 33 House votes, to the tune of $48 million ($24 million a week).

That’s 2.4 hours per vote times eight votes to allow Keystone XL to sidestep all of our nation’s environmental laws, which gives us about 19.4 hours.

Since this is all fuzzy math anyway, let’s bump that to 20 hours, or half a week.

So, $12 million–that’s what House Republicans have wasted doing the bidding of Big Oil to approve this new infrastructure that would lock us into many more decades of reliance on oil at precisely the moment when we need to move decisively away from fossil fuels.

$12 million. That’s a lot of solar panels. 

Image credit: burning money on Shutterstock