U.S. Rep. John Katko is not a fan of President Joe Biden’s proposal to give motorists a temporary federal gas tax break.
Biden said Wednesday that he wants Congress to suspend the 18-cent-per-gallon federal gas tax, and the 24-cent-per-gallon tax on diesel, for 90 days. His goal is to provide relief for consumers paying record-high prices at the pump.
But the proposal was quickly met with bipartisan opposition in Congress. U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, a Buffalo Democrat, said he is “not confident that a federal gas tax holiday is the best way to deliver tangible relief to the American people.”
Katko, R-Camillus, aligned with the critics of Biden’s plan. He thinks a better approach would be to take action to increase domestic energy production.
“I have consistently heard from central New York families and businesses who are feeling pain at the pump because of rising gas prices,” Katko said. “Unfortunately, President Biden’s proposal tries to provide negligible, short-term relief at the expense of funding from the recent bipartisan physical infrastructure bill that is intended to fill potholes, fix bridges, and improve our roadways.”
People are also reading…
He added, “Americans should not have to choose between spending their life savings at the gas station or spending hundreds of dollars every year to fix the family car.”
One concern about a federal gas tax holiday is that it would steer funding away from the Highway Trust Fund, the main source of financing for infrastructure projects. The federal gas tax revenue supports the Highway Trust Fund.
Biden told reporters that his proposal to suspend the federal gas tax would not affect the Highway Trust Fund.
“With the tax revenues up this year and our deficit down over $1.6 trillion this year alone, we’ll still be able to fix our highways and bring down prices of gas,” he said. “We can do both at the same time.”
But lawmakers also question whether the savings would be passed along to consumers. Higgins pointed to New York’s state gas tax holiday, which took effect on June 1. The state suspended its 16-cent-per-gallon tax through the end of the year. Some local governments have capped the sales taxes on gasoline.
However, those actions have done little to lower gas prices. According to AAA, the average gas price in New York was $4.93 per gallon one month ago. As of Thursday, it’s $4.98 per gallon.
“Big oil companies are constraining the supply and stealing the savings associated with state and local tax breaks that should be passed down to consumers,” Higgins said. “There is no promise that this wouldn’t continue with a federal gas tax holiday.”
While Katko and other Republicans believe Biden should increase domestic production, Higgins offered other proposals. One short-term idea is a refundable tax credit to provide relief. He also believes the United States should decrease its reliance on foreign oil by increasing the availability of electric vehicles.
One thing both parties can agree on is that something must be done about skyrocketing gas prices. The national average, according to AAA, is $4.94 per gallon, which is down from $5 per gallon one week ago but up from $4.59 per gallon last month.
At this time last year, the average price was $3.07 per gallon.
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.