Menendez: Dems will ‘insist’ on oil tax-break repeal in debt fight

The Democratic senator leading the charge to strip billions of dollars in oil industry tax breaks said Democrats will “insist” that ending the subsidies be part of any legislation to raise the debt ceiling.

Sen. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezSteve Mnuchin, foreclosure king, now runs your US Treasury Senate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order Senators to Trump: We support additional Iran sanctions MORE (D-N.J.) said Thursday evening that the debt ceiling is among the options for moving the plan to remove incentives for oil giants including Exxon, BP and Shell.

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“I'm convinced we're going to do this, because whether this is done through my legislation or whether this is done as part of any debt-ceiling vote, which we’ll insist on, or whether it’s done as part of any budget vote, we are going to eliminate these subsidies,” he said on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

The timing of a vote to raise the debt ceiling is unclear but is expected this summer before Aug. 2, when the Treasury Department has warned it will no longer be able to meet all its financial obligations.

Menendez’s comments show that Democrats are making the oil taxes a top political priority, and came on the same day that top executives with Exxon, BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips and Chevron faced a grilling before the Senate Finance Committee.

Menendez is the lead sponsor of a Democratic leadership-backed plan to nix an estimated $21 billion over 10 years in industry incentives. The plan would steer the savings into deficit reduction.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidIf Gorsuch pick leads to 'crisis,' Dems should look in mirror first Senate confirms Mulvaney to be Trump’s budget chief Democrats declare victory after Puzder bows out MORE (D-Nev.) has scheduled a test vote on the oil-tax plan Wednesday.

Democrats see a political opening on the matter amid high industry profits and high gasoline prices. But Senate votes last year and in February to strip industry incentives fell well short of passage.

Most Republicans and some Democrats — including Sens. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuFive unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist Trump’s implosion could cost GOP in Louisiana Senate race MORE (D-La.) and Mark BegichMark BegichThe future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map Trump campaign left out of Alaska voter guide MORE (D-Alaska) — oppose the plans. Critics say they would stymie domestic energy production by raising costs.

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerOvernight Cybersecurity: Trump defends Flynn, blasts leaks | Yahoo fears further breach Overnight Finance: Trump's Labor pick withdraws | Ryan tries to save tax plan | Trump pushes tax reform with retailers Democrats declare victory after Puzder bows out MORE (D-N.Y.) — a member of the Democratic leadership team — said earlier this week that if the bill doesn’t pass as a stand-alone measure, Democrats will try and attach repeal of the tax breaks to broader deficit-reduction legislation.