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Biden Asks Congress for Gas Tax Holiday to Lower Record Pump Prices

Kamis, 23 Juni 2022 | 14:53 WIB
Biden Asks Congress for Gas Tax Holiday to Lower Record Pump Prices

ILUSTRASI. U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about his administration's efforts to ease supply chain issues during the holiday season, at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Reporter: Thomas Hadiwinata | Editor: Thomas Hadiwinata

KONTAN.CO.ID -  WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday called for a three-month suspension of the federal gasoline tax to combat record prices, but opposition from lawmakers within his own party suggests the request may never be met.

American families paying much more for gasoline deserve some financial relief, Biden said as he pushed Congress to act, while commenting that a suspension of the 18.4 cents per gallon tax was not enough.

"I fully understand that a gas tax holiday alone is not going to fix the problem but it will provide families some immediate relief, just a little bit of breathing room, as we continue working on bringing down prices for the long haul," Biden said.

The president also urged states to temporarily suspend state fuel taxes, which are often higher than federal rates.

He is also asking major oil companies to suggest ideas on how to bring back idled refining capacity when they meet with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Thursday.

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Biden and his advisers face increasing pressure to act as record-high gas prices and overall inflation weigh on the president's opinion poll ratings and cast doubt on Democrats' chances of retaining congressional power in Nov.8 elections.

The administration says the main causes of high prices are the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February and oil companies reaping sky-high profits as gasoline demand rises with the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic apparently over. Oil companies complain that Biden's administration is unfairly vilifying the industry.

A gas tax holiday is unlikely to lower overall inflation rates, some economists said, and could threaten to undermine Biden's clean-energy and infrastructure goals.

A suspension of the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gasoline tax and 24.4 cent diesel tax would require congressional action.

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Lawmakers in both parties have expressed resistance to suspending the tax. Some Democrats, including House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi worry oil companies and retailers may pocket much of the savings.

"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 an unusually lukewarm statement about a White House action.

Peter DeFazio, a Democrat who chairs the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said a federal gas tax holiday would provide "miniscule relief" and deplete needed infrastructure funds.

Energy secretary Granholm told reporters a "conversation is ongoing" with Capitol Hill.

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