President Biden urged Congress to suspend the federal gas tax in a speech at the White House on Wednesday.
Biden explained that the federal suspension, if enacted, would pause an 18 cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline and 24 cent-per-gallon tax on diesel. While those tax revenues are generally directed toward the Highway Trust Fund for upkeep of American roads, Biden claimed the tax could be suspended without harming the fund.
“With the tax revenues up this year, and our deficit down over $1.6 trillion this year alone, we’ll still be able to fix our highways and bring down prices of gas,” said Biden. “We can do both at the same time.”
The president said he is also “calling on states to either suspend the state gas tax as well, or find other ways to deliver some relief.”
The average price of a gallon of gas in the U.S. was $4.96 as of Wednesday, according to AAA. The average price hit $5.00 per gallon earlier this month. High fuel prices are accompanied by rising prices across all sectors of the economy. In May, the Consumer Price Index rose by 8.6 percent year-over-year, the highest increase in four decades.
Biden blamed Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine for rising energy costs.
“For all those Republicans in Congress criticizing me today for high gas prices in America, are you now saying we were wrong to support Ukraine?” Biden said. “Are you saying that we would rather have lower gas prices in America than Putin’s iron fist in Europe? I don’t believe that.”
.@POTUS: "By suspending the 18-cent federal gas tax for the next 90 days, we can bring down the price of gas and give families just a little bit of relief. I call on the companies to pass this along, every penny of this 18 cents reduction, to the consumers." pic.twitter.com/Bbp5MW5ImC
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 22, 2022
Biden’s arguments were met with derision from Republicans, with Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R., KY.) calling it an “ineffective stunt” and a “silly proposal.”
“The price of gas has risen $2.60 since the Biden administration took office and launched its holy war on affordable American energy,” McConnell noted in a floor speech earlier on Wednesday.
“What the administration, of course, is coming up with is yet another gimmick, another Band-Aid and something they know is dead on arrival up here in Congress,” Senator John Thune (R., SD.), said in his own statement.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., CA), who has previously expressed skepticism at the idea of a gas-tax holiday, said in her own statement that “we will see where the consensus lies on a path forward for the President’s proposal in the House and the Senate.”