Inslee balks at Biden’s calls for temporary suspension of gas tax

Gov. Jay Inslee has balked at President Joe Biden’s call for a three-month suspension of gas taxes at federal and state levels, an effort meant to ease the financial strain for Americans.

While the idea was also met with doubts by Congress, Inslee’s office said, “Pausing the gas tax provides yet another opportunity for oil companies to pocket more profit while significantly hindering our ability to put people to work fixing and building roads and bridges.”

Biden criticized the energy industry for putting profits over production.

“It doesn’t reduce all the pain but it will be a big help,” Biden said, using the bully pulpit when his administration believes it has run out of direct levers to address soaring gas prices. “I’m doing my part. I want Congress, states and industry to do their part as well.”

At issue is the 18.4 cents-a-gallon federal tax on gas and the 24.4 cents-a-gallon federal tax on diesel fuel. If the gas 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.

The president is not only facing an uphill battle with Republicans, but many in his own party have conveyed concerns, along with many economists.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a noncommittal response to Biden’s proposal, saying she would look to see if there was support for it in Congress.

“We will see where the consensus lies on a path forward for the president’s proposal in the House and the Senate,” Pelosi said.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell mocked the gas tax holiday as an “ineffective stunt” in a Wednesday floor speech. “This ineffective administration’s big new idea is a silly proposal that senior members of their own party have already shot down well in advance,” he said.

The Biden Administration said that gas tax suspensions at the federal and state levels as well as energy companies pouring their profits into production and refining capacity could cut gas prices by $1 a gallon.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.