Democratic leadership touts deficit cutting aspect of big oil tax hike

The move could be a way to pressure Republicans to support the legislation because it combines a way to tackle two popular issues -- rising gas prices and the federal deficit. Democrats will need Republican support to reach the 60-vote threshold for cloture on the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also spoke on the floor, praising the bill as away to reduce the national debt.

"We’re giving billions and billions of dollars every year – $4 billion to be exact – every cent of it taxpayer money – to oil companies that already are more than successful," sad Reid.

The Democrats' plan was authored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and will require oil companies to pay taxes for drilling on federal land. It will also remove tax deductions for companies that drill in foreign countries.