Reid Eyes End to Big Oil Tax Breaks

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"The move could add about $4 billion to U.S. coffers."

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidUpstream, Luke Johnson - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he hopes to bring a proposal to the floor as soon as possible that would eliminate tax breaks for the five biggest U.S. oil companies. His comments came one day after President Barack Obama sent a letter to Congressional leaders imploring them to repeal the tax breaks, a that move that could add approximately $4 billion to U.S. coffers.

"We need to take away the subsidies of the five major oil companies," he said, adding that he hopes to "get it done as soon as I can procedurally in the Senate."

He believes discussions about eliminating the tax breaks could begin as soon as next week.

"There's no necessity for these subsidies," he said. "The companies have broken all records for profits."

In his letter, Obama called the subsidies "unwarranted" and "wasteful."

Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner had earlier opened the door to repealing the subsidies when he said oil companies "ought to be paying their fair share" of tax revenues.

Boehner quickly backed off the comments, and other Republican leaders have since tried to distance themselves from the idea.

Meanwhile, House Democrats, led by Representative Earl Blumenauer, are collecting signatures on a letter to Boehner urging him to hold a vote on ending tax breaks to the five supermajors.

"Opinion polls show that the vast majority of Americans want these wasteful subsidies repealed, and we are urging the Speaker to respect their will by holding an up-or-down vote," Talking Points Memo news website quoted Blumenauer as saying.

Blumenauer plans to send the letter to Boehner tomorrow after his fellow Democrats have a chance to sign it.

A bill introduced by Blumenauer would end nearly $8 billion per year in subsidies to the supermajor oil companies.

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