Sanders, Dems push oil speculation vote on tax bill

“Millions of American consumers are hurting as a result of excessive speculation on the oil futures market, and the future of our economy hangs in the balance,” Sanders said in a statement last week.

The criticism has intensified amid the run-up in gasoline prices, which according to AAA now average $3.90 per gallon nationwide. Sanders’s co-sponsors on the amendment include Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). Tester and McCaskill are running for reelection and are among the Senate Democrats most at risk of losing their seat in November, according to The Hill’s race ratings.

The amendment is one of a number that lawmakers will seek to attach to the oil tax break repeal bill.

Almost all Republicans oppose the underlying bill, which stands almost no chance of passage. But most voted Monday evening to allow debate to proceed on the measure.

Republicans say they welcome a chance to have a wide-ranging energy policy battle with Democrats. But the number of amendments that may receive votes, and which ones might be debated, remains unclear.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) told reporters in the Capitol on Monday evening that Republicans are planning various amendments aimed at boosting energy supplies.

“We actually have a whole range of amendments we could bring up,” Hoeven said after the 92-4 vote that allowed the bill to move forward.

“It could be something like infrastructure, like Keystone,” he said of the Keystone XL oil pipeline project that Republicans are pushing. “It could be something like expanded access both onshore and offshore, it could be expedited permitting — all of these things will help us produce more energy.”