President Joe Biden has asked Congress to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months, a move intended to ease financial strains during an election year that many senators have met with skepticism.
In addition to urging states to suspend their gas taxes or provide comparable relief, the Democratic president publicly criticized the energy industry for prioritizing profits above output. To give the consumers relief, legislators in Washington and state capitals throughout the country would need to take action.
"It won't alleviate all the suffering, but it will be a tremendous help," Biden said, employing the bully pulpit when his government believes it has exhausted all direct levers to combat rising gas costs. "I'm doing my part. I want Congress, states, and business to contribute as well."
At dispute are the federal taxes of 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuel. If gas savings were passed on to consumers, they would save around 3.6% at the pump, assuming a national average of $5 per gallon.
Confronted by doubts
Congress must act to suspend the tax, and many politicians, including some members of Biden's party, have expressed skepticism about Biden's proposal. Even many economists are skeptical of the idea of a gas tax holiday.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, issued a noncommittal response to Biden's idea, stating that she would examine whether or not there was congressional support for it.
Pelosi stated, "We will see where the House and Senate consensus lies on a path forward for the president's proposal."
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York stated on Wednesday that a gas tax holiday is unlikely to clear the 50-50 Senate, so Democrats will instead focus on their measure to tighten down on oil firms "manipulating the market" for higher prices and profits. Schumer stated, "We're going to focus on that issue."
In his speech, Biden linked increasing energy prices to Russia's attack on Ukraine, stating that protecting freedom and democracy will not be accessible to the American people and the rest of the free world. The president indicated that parliamentarians supported sanctions on Russia and assistance to Ukraine despite the inflationary risks resulting from energy and food shortages.
He stated that Democrats, Republicans, and independents in Congress opted to assist Ukraine "fully aware of the cost."
Biden's electoral and policy aspirations are imperiled by high gasoline prices. They have led confidence in the economy to plummet to levels that portend poorly for the November defense of Democratic control of the House and Senate.
Biden's previous efforts to reduce gas prices, such as the release of oil from the US strategic reserve and increased ethanol blending this summer, have not resulted in savings at the pump. This danger carries over to the notion of a gas tax holiday.
In a Wednesday floor speech, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell derided the gas tax holiday as an "ineffective stunt." "This incompetent administration's big new idea is a ridiculous proposal that senior members of their party have criticized in advance," he stated.
Energy businesses will meet with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Thursday to discuss methods to enhance supply.