Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm confirmed Sunday the White House is looking at temporarily lifting the federal gas tax holiday as it scrambles to ease the pain at the pump for Americans as the average price of regular gas hovers around $5 a gallon nationwide.
“President Biden wants to do anything he possibly can to help consumers,” Yellen told ABC News “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos. “Gas prices have risen a great deal and it’s clearly burdening households. So he stands ready to work with Congress and that’s an idea that’s certainly worth considering.”
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Granholm insisted that Biden “is doing everything he can within his power, including releasing a million barrels per day at the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” to deal with worldwide fuel shortages following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions on Moscow by the West.
But he’s not doing everything that he can do,” countered host Dana Bash. “One option is to pause the national gas tax … Why hasn’t that happened yet?”
“Yes. I mean, it’s one of the tools,” Granholm said. “First and foremost, we want to increase supply. We also want to take a look at consumer relief directly. And that is …”
“Right, but this is 18 cents per gallon,” interjected Bash, who later added: “That’s a lot when you add up it. So, why not do it now?
“It’s certainly one of the things the president is evaluating,” Granholm answered. “I know this is what’s been happening in many states as well. Honestly, the whole array of tools are still being pressed. He’s used the biggest tool that he has, but he’s obviously very concerned about this continued upward pressure on prices.”
The energy secretary went on to caution that lifting the gas tax would deprive infrastructure projects of funding provided for in last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law.
“If we remove the gas tax, that takes away the funding that was just passed by Congress to be able to do that,” she said. “So that’s one of the challenges, but I’m not saying that that’s off the table … It’s certainly something the administration is considering, just like I know governors across the country are considering that.”
Republicans in Congress have consistently expressed opposition to lifting the federal gas tax, saying it would do nothing to fix the problem of high prices.
“It’s a bad joke,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in February. “It’s a non-solution.”
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed earlier this month to increase production, and Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia next month – a controversial trip because of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
Last week, the president lashed out at US oil producers in a letter accusing them of raking in record profits while Americans struggle with high gas prices.
“[A]t a time of war, refinery profit margins well above normal being passed directly onto American families are not acceptable,” Biden wrote in the letter.