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 MenendezCorruption trial could roil NJ Senate race Steve Mnuchin, foreclosure king, now runs your US Treasury Senate Dems move to nix Trump's deportation order 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 ReidRepublican failure Senate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral Top GOP senator: 'Tragic mistake' if Democrats try to block Gorsuch 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 LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist MORE (D-La.) and Mark BegichMark BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (D-Alaska) — oppose the plans. Critics say they would stymie domestic energy production by raising costs.

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSenate seen as starting point for Trump’s infrastructure plan Dems wait for GOP olive branch after ObamaCare debacle How Obama's White House weaponized media against Trump 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.