“Why we’d have a bill on the floor that would raise gasoline prices, I have no idea,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Tuesday. “But that’s the bill on the floor.”
Democrats countered that oil companies don’t need the tax breaks at a time when they’re making massive profits, painting Republicans as pawns of Big Oil.
"Senate Republicans will never side with American taxpayers against Big Oil," Reid said earlier Tuesday. "It’s against their nature."
Lawmakers proposed a handful of amendments to the bill. But Reid used a procedural move called “filling the tree” that effectively blocks consideration of other amendments.
One amendment authored by liberal Democrats that would force federal regulators to rein in “excessive” speculation in energy markets, which they blame for soaring gas prices.
The Menendez bill would repeal a slew of tax deductions for the largest integrated oil companies. The legislation would also extend several green-energy and energy-efficiency tax breaks.
The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that removing the incentives would raise $24 billion over 10 years, while extending the green-energy and efficiency incentives would cost $11.7 billion over the same period, according to Menendez’s office.
Opponents of stripping the incentives have highlighted a March 2011 Congressional Research Service report that says a wide-ranging repeal of oil industry tax breaks could raise oil prices “on what would likely be a small scale.”
But a separate May 2011 Congressional Research Service report that analyzed legislation similar to the Menendez bill found that the repeal of five key oil-industry tax breaks would have little to no impact on gasoline prices