Updated: President Biden has reportedly moved from "considering it" to something a lot firmer when it comes to a temporary pause on the federal gas tax. Senior White House officials tells CNN and NBC News that Biden will in a Wednesday speech call on Congress to suspend the federal gas and diesel taxes for three months. While that would provide about 18 and 24 cents of relief per gallon, respectively, he hopes the ultimate figure could get closer to $1: He'll also ask states to mimic the move with their own gas and diesel taxes and call on oil refining companies to up their capacity. But before you get too excited, Politico characterizes it as having "almost no chance of passage in Congress" (read its take here). Our original story from Monday follows:
President Biden said Monday that he might temporarily pause the federal gasoline tax, possibly saving US consumers as much as 18.4 cents a gallon. “Yes, I’m considering it,” Biden told reporters after taking a walk along the beach near his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, per the AP. “I hope to have a decision ... by the end of the week.” The administration is increasingly looking for ways to spare the public from higher prices at the pump, which began to climb last year and surged after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Gas prices nationwide are averaging just under $5 a gallon, according to AAA.
Biden said members of his team were to meet this week with CEOs of the major oil companies to discuss rising oil prices. Biden lashed out at oil companies, saying they are making excessive profits when people are feeling the crunch of skyrocketing costs at the pump and inflation. But Biden said he would not be meeting the oil executives himself. “I want an explanation for why they aren’t refining more oil,” Biden said.
The Biden administration has already released oil from the US strategic reserve and increased ethanol blending for the summer, in additional to sending a letter last week to oil refiners urging them to increase their refining capacity. However, those efforts have yet to reduce price pressures meaningfully, such that the administration is now considering a gas tax holiday. Taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel help to pay for highways.
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