Energy & Environment

Moderates lukewarm on Democrats’ gas price gouging bill

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) leaves the House Chamber following the final vote of the week regarding the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act on Friday, March 18, 2022.
Greg Nash

Democrats’ price gouging bill is running into doubts and opposition from several moderate members of the caucus. 

While the bill is facing an uphill battle in the Senate, it’s also not totally clear whether it’ll be able to garner enough support in the House, where Democrats can only lose 6 votes. 

The bill in question would make it illegal to sell fuel at a price that is “unconscionably excessive” and “exploiting” the situation during an energy emergency. 

The legislation, which is up for a vote on Thursday,  would empower the Federal Trade Commission to take legal action against companies that sell at such “excessive” prices. 

But some of the party’s more moderate members, including those from oil-producer Texas, are expressing concerns.

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas) told reporters on Wednesday that he’s “leaning no” because there’s “no solid proof” that gouging is occurring. 

“If you show me the proof, you have my vote, but I haven’t seen it,” he said. 

Clarissa Robles, a spokesperson for Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas), also confirmed that she will vote against the bill.

Another Texas moderate, Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D), however, said that she was “leaning yes.”

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) said she believes the bill will do more harm than good, even though she declined to comment directly on how she would vote.

“It has the potential to make the supply worse,” she said. “It’s not a good idea to implement price controls so I’m concerned about the potential unintended consequences.”

Democratic Chief Deputy Whip Dan Kildee (Mich.) said that he was working to whip votes and added, “With thin margins, it’s always tough.”

Gonzalez said he believes there will be enough opposition to quash the legislation.

Many Democrats have sought to pin the blame for high oil prices on corporations, citing high profits that companies are raking in and money they are returning to their shareholders through buybacks. 

But market analysts have expressed skepticism, saying they are not seeing evidence of price gouging.

“It’s all the people in the market — I mean thousands and thousands of people — that bid the price up. It’s not that ExxonMobil says ‘I’m going to sell my diesel for $200 a barrel,’” Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service, previously told The Hill.

Tags Democratic Party gas prices gas prices gasoline Lizzie Fletcher Price gouging Stephanie Murphy Sylvia Garcia Vicente Gonzalez
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