President Biden said Monday that he will decide on whether to suspend the federal gas tax by the end of the week to offer some relief to consumers facing painfully high prices at the pump.
“I am considering it,” Mr. Biden told reporters in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where he was spending the federal Juneteenth holiday. “I hope I have a decision … by the end of the week.”
He said he is also considering sending gas rebate cards to most Americans, an idea that energy analysts have criticized would only increase demand and lead to higher fuel costs.
Pausing the federal gasoline tax — currently 18.4 cents per gallon — has been a thorny issue for Mr. Biden as he’s pummeled with criticism for the high gasoline prices.
Democrats on Capitol Hill are split on it. Some fear the savings may not get passed down to drivers. Others opposed the roughly $20 billion it would deprive the Highway Trust Fund that pays for transportation infrastructure projects.
The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $4.98 on Monday, according to AAA. That’s down slightly from last week’s all-time high of $5.02 per gallon.
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More than 20 states have proposed a holiday from state gas taxes. Just five states — Maryland, Georgia, Connecticut, New York and Florida — have gone through with it.
The Biden administration has warmed to the idea as the busy summer driving season gets underway and with high prices expected to persist as the November elections draw near.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told ABC News that a gas tax holiday was “certainly worth considering.”
Mr. Biden also reiterated his criticism of Big Oil and said administration officials, including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, will meet with CEOs of major oil companies this week and ask them to “justify making $35 billion in the first quarter.”
“What they’ve done is they cut back on the refining capacity. All this stuff you hear about ‘Biden has limited the amount of oil’ — they have 9,000 leases — 9,000 leases — on public lands, and they should use it or lose it,” the president said. “They’ve cut back on refining — on refining — and they say because they don’t want to be caught in a position as we move to alternative energy, renewable energy, and they don’t want to get stuck. Well, guess what? There’s a logical transition to be made, and I want an explanation from them for why they aren’t refining more oil.”