White House, Democrats discuss federal gas tax break
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House and Democratic congressional leaders are discussing a pause in federal gasoline taxes to help offset rising prices, lawmakers said on Tuesday.
“We have a caucus discussion about it. We haven’t taken a position in caucus yet, but that’s one of the many things we’re looking at in terms of cost cutting,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.
Asked about the issue, the White House said, “All the tools are on the table to bring prices down.” While Biden has already released 50 million barrels of the country’s oil stockpile, “all options are on the table for the future,” the White House added.
Biden said he was going to “work like the devil to bring gas prices down.”
“The idea here is to suspend the federal gas tax…for the remainder of this year for consumers across the country. It’s a pretty obvious thing to do,” Sen. Mark Kelly said after a closed-door lunch with his fellow Democrats that focused on ways to bring down the prices of consumer goods. Last week, Kelly and five other Senate Democrats proposed temporarily suspending the federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents a gallon until the end of the year.
The federal gasoline tax, which funds maintenance and repairs of interstate highways, has not been raised since 1993 and has lost about 50% of its value in real terms. Some lawmakers have expressed concern about the impact on road repairs of the suspension of funding for road repairs.
The midterm elections in November will determine whether the Democrats maintain their wafer-thin majorities in the US Congress. Gasoline costs an average of $3.49 a gallon in the United States, down from an average of $2.50 a year ago, data from the AAA auto group showed on Tuesday, with the West Coast and New England posting the highest ribs.
Schumer noted that “many of those who have been in tough races in 2022” have sponsored the gas tax exemption bill.
Last week’s data showed consumer prices in the United States saw the largest annual increase in inflation in 40 years.
The White House National Economic Council is considering the idea of suspending the gas tax, a source confirmed to Reuters, adding that talks were continuing in Congress. The debate reflects some efforts by the state to also suspend state taxes at the gas pump this year, he added.
Biden has also asked U.S. regulators to probe gasoline prices and last year met with U.S. oil and gas producers about it.