By Ben Geman - 05/17/11 07:04 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday he expects a final agreement on the debt ceiling will include repeal of tax breaks for major oil companies.
“I am confident that before we finish our budget negotiations here in anticipation of raising the debt ceiling that that will be part of it,” Reid told reporters in the Capitol.
The Senate is slated to vote Tuesday evening on a Democratic plan to repeal an estimated $21 billion over a decade in incentives for the largest oil companies.
The measure is expected to fall short. But senior Democrats are increasingly signaling that industry subsidies must be on the table in broader deficit talks between Capitol Hill Democrats, Republicans and the White House.
The talks are unfolding ahead of a high-stakes vote expected this summer to raise the debt ceiling. The timing of a vote to raise the 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.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said late last week that Democrats will “insist” on addressing the oil tax issue in broader budget talks. And Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), a member of the Democratic leadership team, said Menendez’s view is widely held in the caucus.
Schumer said Tuesday that there is a “pretty broad consensus” among Senate Democrats. “Our proposal for deficit reduction will include elimination of these subsidies,” he said.