President Joe Biden said Monday he is considering unveiling a federal gasoline tax exemption that could reduce fuel prices as Americans continue to battle dramatic levels of inflation.
“I’m hoping to have a decision based on the data. I’m looking by the end of the week,” the president told reporters in Delaware, saying he was “considering” the proposal.
This would require congressional action, and any gas tax reduction would limit federal revenues used to pay for highways.
The gas tax is currently 18.4 cents a gallon, and suspending it would help lower the price at the pump, which averaged $4.98 a gallon nationally on Monday. Some states have much higher prices, including California, where the average price for a gallon is $6.39, according to AAA.
These prices are slightly below the average of more than $5 a gallon at the start of the month, but are an uncomfortable increase for millions of Americans given soaring rent and food prices.
Biden ordered the release of millions of barrels of oil from the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve earlier this year, and the government has increased the amount of ethanol blended into fuel to help thwart record prices. But these actions have so far done little to contain costs.
The White House pointed to Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine as a key driver of the price run-up. But Biden also lambasted oil companies for failing to help cover costs, noting that those companies raked in billions in profits during the crisis.
“I want an explanation of why they’re not refining more oil,” Biden said Monday, just before members of his administration meet with oil company CEOs later this week.
It’s unclear how long a possible gas tax exemption could last, and some prominent Democrats have expressed opposition to an exemption in the past. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said the issue was off the table but said it was just “good communication” in April, adding that there was “no guarantee that the federal tax reduction would be passed on”. to the consumer. »
The White House sent letters to the nation’s major oil companies last week threatening to invoke emergency powers if they did not work to lower prices for consumers. The oil companies, however, seem unmoved.
“In wartime, far above normal refinery profit margins passed directly to American families are not acceptable,” the president wrote. “Your companies must work with my administration to come up with concrete short-term solutions that respond to the crisis.”