President Joe Biden said Monday that he is seriously considering a temporary halt in the federal gas tax as the White House looks to take steps to lower the cost at the pump ahead of the July 4 holiday.
White House officials say the July 4 weekend, when tens of millions of Americans are expected to hit the road, is a target for announcing new measures to help lower record-high gas prices.
Biden said Monday that he could make a decision on pausing the federal gas tax by the end of this week. “I hope I have a decision based on data,” he told reporters traveling with him in Rehoboth, Del.
A gas tax holiday would require congressional action and one White House official acknowledged it would be challenging. “Republicans don’t want gas prices to come down,” the official said. “They want Biden to suffer.”
The official pointed to a comment made by Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., to the Wall Street Journal last November saying rising gas prices and inflation are “a gold mine for us.”
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Other possible steps the administration is considering include a gas rebate, though one White House official dismissed the idea as “a stretch” and said it is “not in serious contention.” While a gas tax holiday appears to be getting more serious attention, officials said among the unresolved questions is how long it would last.
The effort to announce new measures comes ahead of a meeting Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm plans to meet with oil refining executives, which a source familiar with the plans said is scheduled for Thursday, June 23. The meeting comes amid growing tensions between the White House and the U.S. oil industry.
Granholm noted on CNN on Sunday that if the administration moved forward on a federal gas tax pause, some federal funds could stop going toward roadway projects as part of the infrastructure law Biden signed last year.
“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 you know, that’s one of the challenges, but I’m not saying that that’s off the table.”