WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden faces an uphill battle to get Congress and some states on board to suspend federal and state gas taxes — a move intended to provide relief to Americans as gas prices rise $5 a gallon nationwide.
But Biden was met with skepticism Wednesday when he called on lawmakers on Capitol Hill and states to suspend the federal gas tax for the next three months.
sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., wrote in a tweet he was pleased that the president was looking for ways to lower gas prices, but wasn’t quite convinced that cutting taxes was the answer.
“Suspending the primary way we pay for infrastructure projects on our roads is a myopic and inefficient way to provide relief,” said Carper.
Biden on Wednesday announced a proposal calling on Congress and states to enact a 90-day gas tax-free day. The president faces record high gas prices and inflation.
Even as we lead the world in defending democracy and standing up to a ruthless autocrat, there are now steps we can take to help American families,” Biden said. “We just have to keep going. I promise you that I will do everything possible, everything possible to lower the price of energy for gas.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., would not commit to backing the president’s proposal, instead saying, “we’ll see where the consensus lies on a path forward for the president’s proposal in the House and the Senate.”
Lowering the state gas tax in addition to the federal suspension could double the savings for beleaguered American families.
But some experts warn that gas prices could soar after the gas tax holidays are over.
Marc Goldwein, senior vice president of the Committee on a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonprofit public policy organization that focuses on tax issues in Washington, DC, said Biden’s proposal aims to temporarily lower gas prices and it appears as if the administration is softening. the fuel crisis.
Goldwein warned: “This is a gimmick. It would exacerbate a bad inflation situation and the underlying pressures of an inflation situation.”
Earlier this year, Maryland, Connecticut, Georgia, New York and Florida had already introduced gas tax exemptions.
Now it’s unclear whether Biden can get more states to suspend their own gas taxes as well, even as some governors applaud Biden for trying to find solutions at the federal level.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer praised Biden for suspending the federal gas tax and called for a temporary suspension of the state gas tax.
“Americans are feeling the pain at the pump with gas hitting $5 a gallon this month, so I’m glad President Biden is calling for a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax,” Whitmer said in a statement† “If we suspend the Michigan sales tax on gas and get it done, we can now save families nearly 50 cents a gallon.”
Whitmer had previously vowed to cut Michigan’s 6% sales tax on gasoline purchases after she vetoed legislation that would halt her states’ gas taxes for six months. A new bill that would suspend the gas tax for three months is under consideration, Kiplinger said.
More than a dozen states have considered suspending or postponing the gas tax hike. So far, Colorado, Illinois and Kentucky have suspended gas tax increases.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said he supports Biden’s request to Congress over the federal gas tax, but did not say whether he would suspend the sales tax in his state.
“We’d love to see Congress finally suspend the federal gas tax to save people money,” Polis said in a statement on Wednesday:† “This should fly through Congress and I challenge anyone to oppose suspending a 22 cent gas tax for three months that will provide immediate relief at the pump.”
Some governors have previously said they will not suspend gas taxes in their states.
“It’s dead. It’s gone. That situation is over,” West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said in a news conference earlier this month. Democrats in West Virginia had pushed for a gas tax vacation.
Some other governors, such as Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, have called on their state legislators to pass legislation suspending the gas tax, but to no avail.
The Virginia state Senate blocked a measure Youngkin had introduced earlier this month for a 90-day gas tax break. Democrats have a slim majority in the state Senate. The measure passed the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Republicans.
Youngkin tweeted Wednesday that the Democrats in his state are “out of step with the common people and their own party.”
“Gas prices are unsustainable for families in Virginia, and it is astonishing that Senate Democrats have blocked my gas lighting proposal three times and lost the opportunity to do the right thing,” he wrote in a statement. separate tweet wednesday† “Virgos deserved a better answer than ‘no’.”
Contributing: Joey Garrison
Reach Rebecca Morin on Twitter @RebeccaMorin_
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: States, Congress Skeptical of Biden’s Gas Tax Vacation