Vulnerable Democrats call for gas tax suspension amid rising prices
Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly (Ariz.) and Maggie Hassan (N.H.) are calling for the federal tax on gasoline to be suspended until next year amid rising prices.
Hassan and Kelly, both of whom are facing reelection in swing states in November, introduced legislation on Wednesday that would wipe out the approximately 18-cents-per-gallon tax on the fuel until the start of 2023.
The proposal was co-sponsored by Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), who also face tough reelection fights this year, as well as Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).
It reflects the pain that many Americans are feeling at the pump, and the fact that Democrats see this as a pivotal issue in this year’s midterm elections.
“This bill will lower gas prices by suspending the federal gas tax through the end of the year to help Arizona families struggling with high costs for everything from gas to groceries,” Kelly said in a statement.
Republicans are widely expected to take back control of the House, but which party will control the Senate next year is considered more of a toss-up at this point.
Gasoline is made from oil, which is a global commodity, meaning prices are not just affected by domestic factors, but also by actions of countries abroad.
Many key factors, like the slow post-lockdown production ramp-up from places such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, are outside the control of the president and other U.S. leaders.
But gasoline prices, in addition to general inflation, are an area that Republicans have been consistently trying to pin responsibility for on their Democratic counterparts ahead of the midterms.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that President Biden is “focused on doing everything we can to address the squeeze that we know gas prices can have on families.”
Psaki said that the U.S. was engaging with oil producers about proposed increases and consumers about releases from oil reserves. She also said that Biden is going to “continue to use every tool at his disposal to reduce prices.”