In lead-up to vote, Reid argues oil bill could lower gas prices

A report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found that eliminating the $21 in tax breaks would affect gas prices neither positively nor negatively.

"The price of oil is determined on world markets and tends not to be sensitive to small cost variations experienced in regional production areas," the CRS said last week.

A different study published by Congress’s Joint Economic Committee also found that eliminating tax breaks “will not affect the output or price of crude oil or natural gas.”

“Eliminating these subsidies for the major oil and gas producers is unlikely to affect production decisions in the near term and, thus, is not likely to have any impact on consumer prices for gasoline and natural gas in the immediate future,” the report stated. 

Republicans also fiercely disputed Reid's claim. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) followed Reid's remarks on Tuesday by calling the bill a "dog and pony show" brought to the floor solely to score political points.

"They rounded up what they believed were a few unsympathetic villains who they could blame for high gas prices, hoping nobody would notice," said McConnell, speaking of the CEOs of the big five oil companies who testified before the Senate Finance Committee last week. "They don't have a plan of their own to deal with those high gas prices."

The Senate will hold a test vote on the legislation around 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday and must reach a 60-vote threshold to proceed in the legislative process. 

Under a unanimous consent agreement, Senate leadership will also hold a vote Wednesday on a Republican offshore drilling bill that mirrors legislation passed by House Republicans in recent weeks.

The bill, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), would require the Interior Department to hold lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Virginia coast, set a timeline for review of pending offshore permit applications, and extend leases in the Gulf for one year, among other things.


—Alexander Bolton and Ben German contributed to this report.

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