Sat | Jun 25, 2022

Biden calls for 3-month suspension of gas and diesel taxes

Published:Wednesday | June 22, 2022 | 3:46 PM
President Joe Biden speaks about gas prices in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday called for Congress to suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes for three months — an election-year move meant to ease financial pressures that was greeted with doubts by many lawmakers.

The Democratic president also called on states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief, and he delivered a public critique of the energy industry for prioritising profits over production.

It would take action by lawmakers in Washington and in statehouses across the country to actually bring relief to consumers.

“It doesn't reduce all the pain but it will be a big help,” Biden said, using the bully pulpit when his administration believes it has run out of direct levers to address soaring gas prices.

“I'm doing my part. I want Congress, states and industry to do their part as well.”

At issue is the 18.4 cents-a-gallon federal tax on gas and the 24.4 cents-a-gallon federal tax on diesel fuel.

If the gas savings were fully passed along to consumers, people would save roughly 3.6% at the pump when prices are averaging about $5 a gallon nationwide.

Biden's push faces uphill odds in Congress, which must act in order to suspend the tax, and where many lawmakers, including some in his own party, have expressed reservations. Even many economists view the idea of a gas tax holiday with scepticism.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a noncommittal response to Biden's proposal, saying she would look to see if there was support for it in Congress.

“We will see where the consensus lies on a path forward for the president's proposal in the House and the Senate,” Pelosi said.

In his speech, Biden tied higher energy prices to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and said, “defending freedom, defending democracy was not going to go without cost for the American people and the rest of the free world.”

The president noted that lawmakers backed sanctions against Russia and aided Ukraine despite the risks of inflation from resulting energy and food shortages.

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