As Congress struggles to address rising gas prices, the Senate is preparing to vote Tuesday evening on a measure to end $20 billion worth of tax breaks over the next decade for the nation's five largest oil companies.
Democrats say the savings, which amount to about $2 billion a year, would help lower the deficit.
"We have to do something about the exorbitant gas prices, and the best way to start with that is to do something about the five big oil companies getting subsidies they don't need," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "The other thing we have to be concerned about are the huge deficits that we've had, and we can accomplish both of those to some degree today by doing something this evening when we vote on taking away those huge subsidies the oil companies no longer need."
The Democratic measure, the "Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act," is sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez, D-NJ, Claire McCaskill, D-MO, and Sherrod Brown, D-OH. It is not expected to get the 60 votes necessary to advance the bill in the Senate.
Republicans oppose the bill because they say it does nothing to lower gas prices and is not a serious effort to address the problem.
"Symbolic votes like this that aim to do nothing but pit people against each other will only frustrate the public even more," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
"Americans really aren't interested in scapegoats," he continued. "They just want to pay less to fill up their cars. That's why this Democratic bill to tax American energy is an affront to the American people."