Biden to urge Congress to suspend federal gas tax for 3 months

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President Biden will urge Congress on Wednesday to suspend the federal gas tax of 18.3 cents per gallon for three months, marking the latest White House effort to contend with high inflation and reassure voters the administration is sensitive to the impact of rising prices on their wallets.

The announcement, previewed by the White House, will come just days before millions of Americans fill up their tanks in advance of July 4 weekend travel, although drivers are unlikely to see reductions the president hopes for by then. Biden will also ask Congress to suspend the 24.3-cent-per-gallon diesel tax.

To further lower prices, Biden will call on states to suspend their own gas taxes. And he plans to urge oil companies and refineries to lower prices for consumers, even if doing so means eating into their own profits.

If all those things happen, the administration estimates consumers could save about a dollar per gallon. The average cost of a gallon of gas hit nearly $4.97 per gallon nationally on Tuesday, down from its record high above $5 per gallon earlier this month, according to AAA.

Biden to make gas tax holiday decision this week

But Biden’s wish is by no means a guarantee. The president’s request is likely to face tough opposition on Capitol Hill, including from senior members of his own party who have already made it clear they object to a gas tax suspension.

For months, some Democrats and Republicans have questioned the wisdom and effectiveness of suspending the federal gas tax, saying it may provide scant help to Americans in need. Republicans in particular have called a potential gas tax suspension a political stunt by a president who has seen his popularity plummet as the cost of an array of goods has gone up.

And Republicans may also be hesitant to give Biden a win on an economic issue of deep concern to voters five months before midterm congressional elections.

“This is nothing but a midterm election gimmick,” Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) said on Fox News before the announcement. “They’re trying to buy votes right now with this. … And you know, a short-term gimmick like this is just nothing but that. Very shortsighted. It will not fix the inherent problem.”

Some Democrats, too, expressed concerns about whether a tax suspension would trickle down to consumers.

“I do not like the idea of a federal gas holiday that’s being talked about,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the leader of the left-leaning Congressional Progressive Caucus, in an interview on Tuesday before the White House announcement. “I don’t think that’s going to make it down to the consumer.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) expressed similar skepticism earlier this spring, even as some of her fellow Democrats — led by the most vulnerable entering the 2022 midterms — began to…

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