Senate to vote on bill killing oil tax breaks

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has scheduled a procedural vote Monday on legislation to repeal billions of dollars in tax breaks for the largest oil companies.

A Senate Democratic aide told The Hill that Reid filed cloture on the bill, authored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), on Thursday, setting up a procedural vote on Monday at 5:30 p.m.

ADVERTISEMENT
The legislation faces major hurdles to passage, but will nonetheless rally many Senate Democrats, who have made killing the tax breaks a top political priority amid soaring gas prices.

Reid said earlier in the week that a vote on the Menendez bill would be coming "very soon." But he did not schedule a vote until Thursday.

The legislation eliminates a slew of oil industry tax deductions for major integrated oil companies, using the savings to finance the extension of key renewable energy tax credits.

Democrats have tried to eliminate oil company tax breaks before, but failed. A similar measure fell eight votes short of the 60 votes needed for passage last year.

President Obama has ramped up pressure on Congress to slash oil industry tax breaks, amid indications that rising gas prices are hurting his reelection bid.

“The current members of the Flat Earth Society in Congress would rather see us continue to provide $4 billion — $4 billion — in tax subsidies, tax giveaways, to the oil companies; $4 billion to an industry that is making record profits,” Obama said Wednesday during a speech in Boulder City, Nev.

“Every time you fill up the pump, they're making money. They are doing just fine. They're not having any problems,” he said.

The speech is part of a two-day, four-state energy tour that is meant in part to counter GOP attacks on Obama over gas prices.

Republicans, oil-state Democrats and industry groups say eliminating the tax breaks would cause gas prices to increase. But a Congressional Research Service report released in May 2011 found that the repeal of five key oil industry tax breaks would have little to no impact on gasoline prices.

Gas prices reached a national average of $3.88 Thursday, according to AAA. That's up 31 cents from this time last month.