June 20 (UPI) — President Joe Biden could decide whether to hit the brakes on the federal gas tax by the “end of the week” to ease soaring prices at the pump during the summer travel season.
“Well, I hope I have a decision based on the data I’m looking for… by the end of the week,” Biden told reporters Monday while on vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Del.
The average price of gasoline hovered slightly below $5 per gallon Monday at $4.981, according to figures released by AAA, following a modest decline from last week’s record highs.
The federal gas tax currently adds 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline. For diesel, it adds 24.4 cents.
In addition to a gas tax holiday, Biden told reporters Monday a gas rebate card is also under consideration, but did not offer any details as to how that would work.
“My team is going to be sitting down with the CEOs of major oil companies this week and deciding to get an explanation on how they justify making $35 billion in the first quarter,” the president said.
According to an Ipsos poll in April, respondents blamed oil companies and Russia’s war in Ukraine for high gas prices.
If the president announces a gas tax holiday, the suspension would still need Congressional support. Some Democrats have already introduced legislation.
Critics argue a gas tax holiday would pull funding from much-needed road improvement projects, with no guarantee consumers would see any savings.
“Part of the challenge with the gas tax, of course, is that it funds the roads, and we just did a big infrastructure bill to help fund the roads,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CNN Sunday. “If we remove the gas tax, that takes away the funding that was just passed by Congress to be able to do that.”
Biden also told reporters Monday he talked with Larry Summers, former Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration and economic adviser in the Obama administration, as the president staved off questions about a possible recession after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to slow inflation.
“I was talking to Larry Summers this morning, and there’s nothing inevitable about a recession,” Biden said.
In February, Summers blamed spending from Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan for fueling inflation and blasted the idea of a gas tax holiday. “We are plumbing the depths of new bad ideas with that one.”