President Biden on Tuesday said that he “can’t do much” about gas prices that are surging past all-time highs after he signed an executive order to ban Russian oil imports.
“Do you have a message for the American people on gas prices?” a reporter asked Biden as he arrived in Fort Worth, Texas, for an event about veterans health.
“They’re going to go up,” Biden said.
A reporter followed up, “What can you do about it?”
“Can’t do much right now… Russia is responsible,” said the president, despite Republicans urging him to allow more domestic drilling and pipeline projects.
Biden announced Tuesday morning that he would ban imports of Russian oil after two weeks of bipartisan pressure. Biden reportedly called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Monday night in a failed attempt to call off a vote on legislation that would force his hand.
“This is a step that we’re taking to inflict further pain on Putin, but there will be costs as well here in the United States,” Biden warned in Tuesday morning remarks as US gas prices hit an all-time high of $4.17 per gallon on average.
The Biden administration has attempted to woo the despotic leaders of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to pump more oil — as opposed to taking steps to boost domestic production as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupts energy markets.
US diplomats are working to broker a new nuclear deal with Iran in exchange for sanctions relief and are suddenly seeking to smooth over a rift with Venezuela’s socialist strongman Nicolas Maduro, who the US government does not recognize as the country’s legitimate rule.
Biden reportedly is considering a trip to Saudi Arabia this spring to move past hard feelings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the US intelligence community believes ordered the 2018 hit that killed and dismembered by bone saw the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Biden, who recently ordered the release of some oil from the national strategic reserve, defended his own energy policies amid rising gas prices, saying Tuesday morning, “It’s simply not true that my administration or policies are holding back domestic energy production, that’s simply not true.”
Biden canceled construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline last year and attempted to halt new drilling permits on public land.
Biden admonished oil companies for not making full use of existing drilling permits and warned them that there was “no excuse to exercise excessive price increases or padding profits or any kind of effort to exploit the situation.”
The president’s insistence that his own policies were not “holding back domestic energy production” drew mockery from Republicans.
Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) tweeted, “@POTUS this you?” with a link to Biden’s 2021 executive order that sought to curtail new oil exploration.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt tweeted, “Joe Biden is lying — although I won’t hold my breath for ‘fact checkers’ to correct him.” Schmitt urged Biden to take a variety of steps to boost domestic production, including allowing pipeline construction and new drilling.
“I strongly support America stopping purchasing Putin’s oil,” tweeted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “We must also recognize that the past year of bad policies from this anti-domestic-energy Administration will make this necessary step more painful than it had to be. Democrats must let Americans produce American energy.”
Rising gas prices threaten to exacerbate already soaring inflation, which is at a 40-year high.