Senate Dems push bill to stop gas price spikes amid Iraq turmoil

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is pushing legislation that would give federal regulators emergency power to reign in speculators from "taking advantage of turmoil in Iraq" to spike gas prices.

The bill would compel the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is tasked with regulating oil markets, to use its authority and energy powers to eliminate excessive oil speculation.

Sanders introduced the bill Thursday with 13 other Senate Democrats.

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"I am getting tired of big oil companies and Wall Street speculators using Iraq as an excuse to pump up oil and gas prices," Sanders said on the Senate floor.

After Islamist militants expanded their control over northern Iraq earlier this month, the price of oil soared.

More recently, oil prices have hovered after a sharp drop; it might indicate investors expect violence in Iraq will not reach the oil-heavy south, according to The Associated Press.

Still, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), one of the 13 senators that signed on to the bill, said Friday that the trading commission should act "quickly" to reign in speculation "that puts a strain on American families and hurts our economy."

According to the Department of Energy's stat shop, the average price for a gallon of gas this week reached $3.70 per gallon.

House Republicans took the higher gas prices as sign that President Obama's climate change and energy policies were failing.

This week the House passed a number of energy bills that put pressure on the White House. One bill passed by the House on Thursday would expand offshore oil and gas production.

Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), who sponsored the bill, said gas prices would drop if the administration didn't keep large swaths of federal land and waters under "lock and key" that he claimed would help boost U.S. energy production.