President Joe Biden’s White House has routinely downplayed and shifted blame for skyrocketing gas prices, but recent actions indicate that the administration is increasingly worried about the negative political impact the costly fuel is having on the president’s own approval and his Democratic Party’s electoral chances in November.
On Wednesday, President Biden called upon Congress to swiftly pass legislation designating a three-month federal gas tax holiday to help reduce the burden of soaring prices at the gas pump.
A White House “fact sheet” noted that in addition to the temporary suspension of the federal tax on gasoline and diesel fuel — about 18 and 24 cents per gallon, respectively — President Biden also called upon the individual states to also extend similar relief through gas tax holidays or other means.
The “fact sheet” acknowledged that the federal gas tax provides substantial revenue for the Highway Trust Fund that provides money for infrastructure and road improvement projects, but suggested that the funding lost through the gas tax holiday could be recouped through shifted revenue from other sources.
Biden suggests temporary gas tax holiday over summer months
The Hill reported Tuesday in advance of the announcement about the rumors that President Biden would ask Congress to authorize a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax ahead of the summer months when gas prices typically surge even higher due to more people driving for vacations and outings.
Biden himself had indicated as much Monday while speaking with reporters in a press gaggle and affirmed that he was “considering” a gas tax holiday as well as even a federal program to send gas tax rebate cards to the American people in an effort to relieve some of the financial pain that is felt at the pump.
However, The Hill noted that the federal gas tax holiday idea had previously received “mixed reviews on Capitol Hill,” with some members of Congress expressing concerns that the savings wouldn’t amount to much or might not even be passed along to consumers at all, and would also deny the Highway Trust Fund of necessary revenue for other infrastructure projects.
Unlikely to be passed by Congress
In that regard, Politico reported that Biden’s call for a gas tax holiday was “likely doomed” and would not find sufficient support among Democrats or Republicans in Congress.
“I’ve not been a proponent of the gas tax” holiday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters Tuesday night. “I just don’t know that it gives much relief.”
The outlet noted that the White House began reaching out to Democratic lawmakers over the weekend to gauge support for the proposal, and perhaps in acknowledgment of the unlikelihood of congressional action — at least Biden can tell the American people he tried — the call for states to pursue similar actions was added into the president’s announcement.
Pelosi, Obama, on record against suspension of gas tax
CNBC reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has already gone on record multiple times this year in opposition to the idea of a federal gas tax holiday, which she criticized as mere “good PR” in April and derided as nothing more than “showbiz” in March, and centered on the concern that any savings would be pocketed by gas stations and oil companies and not be passed along to consumers.
Even Biden’s former boss, President Barack Obama, has famously stood against proposed gas tax holidays in the past, including during the 2008 recession when he belittled such a suggestion as a “gimmick” that sounds good to people who are hurting — and bolsters politicians who want to appear as though they are helping — but in reality do little to ease the economic burden of high gas prices.