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With tax season approaching — and only two legislative weeks before the Easter recess — Senate Democratic leaders are preparing to pivot to tax issues and are considering a push to repeal oil and gas subsidies before the end of the month, Democratic leadership aides said Monday.
At the same time, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) this week will begin rolling out a key small-business tax plan that was part of the GOP's Pledge to America in 2010.
The Senate measure would likely redirect the revenue to fund clean energy initiatives. However, a decision to take up the proposal this month has not yet been made.
Although long sought by Democrats, the decision to pursue the elimination of the subsidies is largely a political move. Republicans are expected to oppose repealing the energy subsidies because they argue that it would be passed on to consumers.
As for Democrats' other high-profile tax proposals — designed to highlight tax inequality — nothing is expected to come to the Senate floor until at least the week of April 16, when tax returns are due, the aide said.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said earlier this month that Senate Democratic leaders expect to take up legislation soon that would include the "Buffett Rule," named for billionaire Warren Buffett, who has argued that the tax system benefits the wealthy.
"We're considering our options," the Senate Democratic aide said.
"It's another opportunity to remind Americans that Republicans want to lower taxes on the wealthy and raise them on hardworking, middle-class citizens," the aide said.
One possible measure that could come to the floor is a proposal introduced last month by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) that would require millionaires to pay at least a 30 percent tax rate.
Republicans argue that the measure would be a jobs killer because it would raise taxes on small-business owners who tend to file their businesses taxes as part of their income.
"In a difficult economy with so many people unemployed and with so many people struggling to fill their gas tanks, the last thing they need is another tax hike from the Democrats," a Senate GOP aide said.
Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) last year offered a proposal that included a millionaire's surtax that would exempt small businesses, but it is unclear whether that will be part of any Buffett Rule legislation Senate Democratic leaders move.