President Biden will call on Congress Wednesday to suspend federal gas taxes for three months amid the crisis of crushing, record-high prices.
The commander-in-chief will give an afternoon speech to call for the fuel taxes — 18.4 cents a gallon on gas and 24.4 cents on diesel — to be suspended until September, according to administration officials.
He will also call on states to suspend their own taxes or provide similar relief. New York is one of several states to have already done so.
The desperate measure comes as the national average continues to hover around $5 a gallon for gas. Before this year, the previous highest recorded by AAA was $4.114 per gallon in July 2008.
The price hike comes during the threat of recession amid soaring inflation and other alarming signs of a failing economy, crushing Biden’s approval ratings and casting a dark cloud over Democrats’ chances of retaining congressional power in November’s elections.
Biden himself admitted in an interview last week that “until gas prices started going up … things were much more, they were much more optimistic.”
If the federal gas-tax holiday savings were fully passed along to consumers, people would save roughly 3.6% at the pump when prices are averaging about $5 a gallon nationwide.
“A federal gas tax suspension alone won’t fix the problem we face, but it will provide families a little breathing room as we continue working to bring down prices for the long haul,” one administration official said.
However, the suspension would require congressional approval, likely making Biden’s support largely symbolic.
Lawmakers of both parties have already expressed resistance to the move, which would cost the Highway Trust Fund roughly $10 billion in forgone revenue, according to officials.
Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi has warned that it would have limited effect on prices — and that most of the savings would end up being pocketed by oil companies and retailers.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell mocked the idea of a gas tax holiday in a floor speech in February, even before the current record-high prices.
“They’ve spent an entire year waging a holy war on affordable American energy, and now they want to use a pile of taxpayers’ money to hide the consequences,” he said.
Even former President Barack Obama, during his 2008 presidential campaign, called the idea a “gimmick” that allowed politicians to “say that they did something.”
The president has also called on energy companies to accept lower profit margins, accusing them of making “more money than God.”
Administration officials directly blame the price hike on the Ukraine war, noting that prices had gone up almost $2 a gallon since Russian President Vladimir Putin began building up forces earlier this year.
The president “believes that states, oil companies and retailers have a responsibility in this unique moment – to do their part to ameliorate Putin’s price hike,” an official told Fox News.
With Post wires