(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Montana's Sen. Max Baucus, will hold a hearing Thursday morning with the executives of the five oil companies targeted by the Democrats’ new bill, called the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act.
The new measure is intended to scrap $2 billion in tax subsidies each year for the five largest and most profitable oil companies and, in turn, apply the savings to paying down the federal deficit.
The committee will ask John Watson, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Chevron Corporation; Marvin Odum, U.S. President of Shell Oil; H. Lamar McKay, Chairman and Presidnt of BP America Inc.; James Mulva, Chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips; and Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, to defend the subsidies, especially in the wake of recent high oil company profits.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday said he plans to kick off debate on the new bill on Wednesday, with a vote scheduled “in the next week.”
“Every year oil companies get billions of dollars of subsidies from the American taxpayers,” Reid said. “Common sense tells us these oil companies do not need these huge subsidies. We've had executives of these oil companies who have said so in the past. Recently the former CEO of Shell has said that. And economists recognize that these subsidies, if we took them away, would not affect gas prices at all."
Reid continued, "The only purpose these subsidies serve is to line the pockets of these oil companies. The most effective way to bring down the deficit is to start now and make good, smart choices. Putting seniors ahead of oil companies should be a no-brainer.”
But the Democrats face an uphill battle in passing their measure. It will need 60 votes to advance, a long shot in a chamber where there are only 53 Democrats and even some of them -- like Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu -- don’t support the measure. Republicans have vociferously opposed the bill.
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