June 22 (UPI) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday called on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for three months to save consumers 18 cents a gallon.
Biden said the administration will meet with oil refinery executives Thursday to urge them to bring more refineries back online to lower prices at the pump.
In a live-streamed announcement, Biden also called on states to order similar gas-tax holidays.
“I fully understand that a gas tax holiday alone will not fix the problem, but it will bring families some relief,” he said.
Biden said Republicans have falsely accused him of preventing increased oil production on federal lands.
“Last week I sent a letter to the CEOs of the largest oil-refining companies, asking them to work with my administration to bring refineries back on line to get more gas to the pump at lower prices,” Biden said.
The president had a direct message to oil companies.
“To the companies running gas stations and setting those prices at the pump, this is a time of war, global peril, Ukraine. These are not normal times. Bring down the price at the pump to reflect what you’re paying,” Biden said.
He reiterated that prices are up about $2 a gallon since Russia invaded Ukraine in February and said he warned at the time that opposing Vladimir Putin by supporting Ukraine would not come without a cost.
“For all those Republicans in Congress criticizing me today for high gas prices in America, are you saying it was wrong to stand up to Putin?” Biden asked.
Biden said America can deal with this immediate crisis of high gas prices and still seize a clean energy future.
He called for the gas tax holiday to take effect soon and run through the end of September. In addition to the 18 cents per gallon the move would shave off regular gasoline prices, it would also suspend the 24-cents-per-gallon federal tax on diesel fuel.
The federal taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel go toward maintenance and repairs for infrastructure nationwide. The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law was passed last year.
California has the largest gas tax in the nation, which typically leads to the state having the steepest gasoline prices.
According to Statista, California charges nearly 70 cents for every gallon of gasoline sold, followed by Illinois (60 cents), Pennsylvania (59 cents) and Hawaii (52 cents).
Which states acquiesce to the president’s request, however, could well depend on which party controls the legislatures. Republicans have seized upon rising prices in the United States over the past year in their criticism of Biden and the Democratic Party.
Several factors have pushed gas prices higher in the United States recently, including rising demand, limited capacity at refineries and the removal of Russian oil from world markets due to the war.
According to AAA, the national average for gas in the United States on Wednesday was $4.95 a gallon — a decrease of about 1 cent from Tuesday and 6 cents from a week ago.
California has the nation’s most expensive gas, at $6.37 per gallon, followed by Nevada ($5.63), Alaska ($5.61) and Hawaii ($5.56). Georgia has the least expensive gas, at $4.45 per gallon, followed by Mississippi ($4.47), Arkansas ($4.50) and Louisiana ($4.50).