President Joe Biden is asking Congress to suspend federal taxes on gasoline and diesel for three months to provide consumers and businesses relief from soaring fuel costs.
The taxes, which are 18 cents a gallon on gasoline and 24 cents a gallon on diesel, fund highway maintenance and construction, but Biden is asking Congress to replace the roughly $10 billion that would be lost by suspending the taxes.
But legislators from both political parties are skeptical about cutting highway maintenance funding and increasing consumer demand for gas, which could worsen inflation. This means any potential legislation temporarily cutting the gas tax would face a rocky path through Congress.
"[Peter] DeFazio, Nancy Pelosi and myself, we've all expressed reservations about it," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters Wednesday. "But the president of the United States has proposed it and we'll look at it. We all agree that the price of the pump is hurting working Americans."
The average price of regular gas has risen to $4.95 per gallon, an increase of nearly five cents from last month and over $2.50 from last year, according to AAA. Diesel fuel is currently at $5.81 dollars per gallon, climbing approximately three cents in the last month and $2.50 in the last year.Biden on Wednesday said the tax holiday on its own would not be enough to provide complete relief from inflation. But he said the move would give Americans "a little extra breathing room" as the Ukraine Crisis continues to fuel inflation.
"It doesn't reduce all of the pain, but it would be a big help," Biden said in a speech.
Biden, in a White House fact sheet, estimated that roughly $10 billion would be needed to replace losses to the Highway Trust Fund. The fund received approximately $36.3 billion from gasoline and diesel taxes in fiscal year 2020.
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More than 35 organizations representing interests across the oil, transportation and construction industries, stand in opposition to Biden's plan. These groups, which include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers and the American Trucking Associations, sent a letter to Biden on Wednesday arguing that suspending the gas tax would not have a "meaningful impact" on addressing inflation.
"As you consider options for addressing global inflationary pressures, it is critical that we do not inadvertently undermine our mutual goal of rebuilding our infrastructure systems and networks to remain competitive in a 21st century global marketplace," the groups wrote.
The American Petroleum Institute, a trade group representing the oil industry, also pushed back against Biden's idea, saying the White House is turning to "short-term fixes" instead of "long-term solutions."
"If Washington is serious about delivering relief to consumers, then they should be focused on policies that encourage increased U.S. production and address the global mismatch between energy demand and available supply," Frank Macchiarola, the senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs for API, said in a statement.Biden said in a White House fact sheet he is also asking state and local governments to suspend their gas taxes, noting that the governors of Connecticut and New York have already done so.