President Joe Biden called for a three-month pause to the federal gas tax on Wednesday to contend with “Putin’s Price Hike.”
The federal government imposes a gas tax of $0.184 per gallon of gasoline and $0.244 per gallon of diesel, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. President Biden is asking for a suspension of the tax through September without interruptions to the $10 billion required to bankroll the Highway Trust Fund.
“President Biden understands that high gas prices pose a significant challenge for working families,” a White House statement said. “Today, he is calling on Congress and states to take additional legislative action to provide direct relief to American consumers who have been hit with Putin’s Price Hike.”
Combined with state taxes, the average American driver pays $0.571 in gas taxes per gallon, according to the American Petroleum Institute. While New York and Connecticut temporarily paused their gas taxes in response to the soaring energy prices, Illinois and Colorado delayed scheduled tax and fee hikes, according to the White House statement.
On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told ABC News host George Stephanopoulos that pausing the federal gas tax was on the table for the Biden administration. “Gas prices have risen a great deal, and it’s clearly burdening households. So he stands ready to work with Congress, and that’s an idea that’s certainly worth considering,” Yellen said of President Biden.
Gas prices are currently $4.96 per gallon, according to AAA. Earlier this month, gas prices hit $5.00 per gallon, rising from the $2.39 per gallon witnessed when Biden took office.
Along with the proposed gas tax suspension, however, the White House clarified that “our efforts to increase energy production in the near-term must be coupled with medium- and long-term efforts to transition our economy away from fossil fuels produced by autocrats and to clean energy.” Likewise, Yellen said on Sunday that “the way in which we can ensure reasonable energy expenses for households is to move to renewables, to address climate change.”
In recent months, multiple White House officials — including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and President Joe Biden himself — have even argued that high prices for nonrenewable energy will accelerate a transition to green energy, especially as more Americans buy electric cars.
Meanwhile, multiple Republican lawmakers have criticized Biden for a “de facto ban on new drilling” achieved by “sitting idle on over 9,000 drilling permits” and millions of acres of inactive leases. Likewise, the White House faced backlash last year for revoking a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. More recently, former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the Biden administration had “no plans” to reconsider opening pipeline construction.
President Biden recently sent a letter to oil companies asking them to increase production and slash their profits.
“There is no question that Vladimir Putin is principally responsible for the intense financial pain the American people and their families are bearing,” Biden wrote. “But amid a war that has raised gasoline prices more than $1.70 per gallon, historically high refinery profit margins are worsening that pain.”