Sanders bill would force CFTC's hand in effort to lower gas prices

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The senators argued that the CFTC has been “dragging its feet” in establishing
“position limits” on the amount of futures and swaps contracts for oil and other commodities that traders may hold. The limits are required under the sweeping 2010 financial reform law.

Democrats have increasingly blamed “excessive” speculation for rising gas prices to counter GOP attacks on President Obama’s energy plan.

A coalition of Democrats, 23 senators and 45 House members, urged the CFTC earlier this month to put limits on speculative trading.

“It is one of your primary duties — indeed, perhaps your most important — to ensure that the prices Americans pay for gasoline and heating oil are fair, and that the markets in which prices are discovered operate free from fraud, abuse and manipulation,” the lawmakers said in a letter.

Pump prices have risen to the top of the political agenda in Washington, D.C. Gas prices increased to a national average of $3.86 per gallon Wednesday, according to AAA — up 30 cents during the last month.

Republicans have sought to pin the blame for high gas prices on Democrats, arguing they have not done enough to expand domestic oil-and-gas production.

Energy experts say federal policymakers have limited options to lower gas prices, as they are tethered to oil prices, which are set on world markets.