Joe Biden will call on Congress today to temporarily suspend federal gasoline and diesel taxes in an attempt to quell voter anger at the surging cost of fuel.
In a speech on Wednesday afternoon, Biden is expected to ask the House to pause the federal taxes – about 18¢ a gallon for gas and 24¢ a gallon for diesel – until the end of September.
Biden will also call on states to suspend local fuel taxes and urge oil refining companies to increase capacity – just days after accusing executives of profiteering and “worsening the pain” for consumers.
If all the measures Biden will call for are adopted, prices could drop by about $1 a gallon at the pumps, according to senior officials who briefed CNN, although energy experts have questioned the effectiveness of gas tax holidays.
Biden’s ratings have plummeted in recent months as inflation has soared, raising fears that the Democrats could lose their slim majorities in the Senate and House in November’s midterm elections.
Oil and refined fuel prices are at a 14-year high in large part because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions, as well as a rebound in energy use as economies get back to normal in the wake of the Covid shutdowns.
The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline was $4.96 on Wednesday, according to AAA, down slightly on earlier this month. Drivers in California are paying $6.37 today compared with $4.45 in Georgia.
The administration’s efforts to blame Russia for the rising cost of fossil fuels and food have done little to dissipate voter dissatisfaction.
Meanwhile, his move to increase national fossil fuel production, in order to diminish the impact of international factors, has been widely criticised by environmentalists, who argue it will scupper any chance of the US meeting its climate targets.
The federal fuel tax is used to fund highways, mass transit and clean-up projects, while state taxes help pay for road repairs and environmental programs.