Senate to vote on bills repealing oil tax breaks, expanding offshore drilling

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; would set a timeline for review of pending offshore permit applications; and would extend leases in the Gulf for one year, among other things.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) originally scheduled a test vote on the bill to repeal oil tax breaks for Wednesday.

But Reid filed cloture on the bill Monday night. The Hill’s Floor Action Blog notes that the bill will likely come up for a vote Tuesday around 6:15 p.m. based on Senate rules.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said Monday night on the floor that Reid was forced to file cloture on the bill because Republicans had threatened to conduct a “silent filibuster” if he attempted to bring the legislation to the floor.

Expect Republicans to blast the tax breaks bill on the floor Tuesday for not lowering gas prices. Democrats will counter that the bill is not meant to provide relief at the pump, but to reduce the deficit.

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service says the bill will have no impact on gas prices.

Ben Geman and Josiah Ryan contributed to this story.