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 MenendezConfirm Julien Neals for the district of New Jersey Puerto Rico task force asks for help in charting island's economic course Tim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense 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 Reid10 most expensive House races McConnell: Senate won't take up TPP this year Politicians can’t afford to ignore Latinos 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 reasons the Trump campaign is in deep trouble Louisiana gov: Trump helped 'shine a spotlight' on flood recovery Giuliani: Trump 'more presidential' than Obama in Louisiana visit MORE (D-La.) and Mark BegichMark BegichRyan's victory trumps justice reform opponents There is great responsibility being in the minority Senate GOP deeply concerned over Trump effect MORE (D-Alaska) — oppose the plans. Critics say they would stymie domestic energy production by raising costs.

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerTrump was wrong: Kaine is a liberal in a moderate's clothing Trump poised to betray primary supporters on immigration Rubio primary challenger loans campaign M 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.