Let's suspend federal gas tax until Biden's inflation crisis under control

Americans fear return to 1970s-era inflation as rate surges to highest level in decades

Fox News’ Douglas Kennedy heads to Vermont to investigate the impact of high prices on the fuel service industry.

Driving home from Grandma’s house after the most expensive Thanksgiving in modern history, American families were hit coming and going: pricier turkey on the table and gas in the tank.   

In Catron County, a part of New Mexico’s Second District that I represent, AAA estimates an average of $3.90 a gallon for regular gasoline. That’s almost double what New Mexicans were paying one year ago. Across the country, Americans see prices for fuel, heat, groceries and all sorts of necessities rising, while the power of their paychecks shrinks from inflation unseen since the Carter administration’s “national malaise” of the 1970s.        

That’s why I was thrilled to hear about a few centrist Democrats in Congress who are pushing President Biden to suspend the federal gas tax.  

To these colleagues of mine, I say, “Welcome aboard!” We have a legislative fix ready and waiting.  

Last spring, I introduced the Pausing Unrelenting Markups on Petroleum (or PUMP) Act. The legislation would suspend the 18.3 cent federal excise tax on gasoline until all emergency health orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted, or for six months after the date of enactment of the bill, whichever is longer.  

This legislation would provide a bit of relief for drivers, especially those in rural areas who often must travel long distances for work, school, doctor appointments and other errands.   

And no offense to my colleagues, but President Biden and congressional Democrats could use a real bipartisan win these days, judging from their lackluster approval polls. 

We can make life better and more affordable for American families. We can bring back jobs and industry.

Of course, saving 18.3 cents a gallon is just a small step in the right direction. We need to reverse the root causes of rising prices and economic disfunction. Unfortunately, a lot of these problems arise directly from the Biden administration’s infuriating hostility toward American energy, industry and jobs. 

From his first days in office, President Biden ordered a freeze on all new federal oil and gas leases, limiting American companies in their search for new energy sources. That is why I introduced the Protecting our Wealth of Energy Resources (POWER) Act just a few days later; this legislation would prohibit the president or his secretaries of Interior, Agriculture and Energy from blocking energy or mineral leasing or from issuing mineral withdrawals on federal lands and waters without congressional approval. 

Fast-forward to the Friday after Thanksgiving – when most families were eating leftovers and doing some Christmas shopping – and Biden’s Interior Department quietly released a plan to make domestic energy production more difficult and expensive for American companies by limiting available lands and making leases more expensive.   

Our leaders should govern with public votes and transparency, not Friday news dumps. Just as importantly, our leaders should not hamstring an industry that has made the United States the energy powerhouse of the world, an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country, especially at a time of supply chain problems, lingering COVID restrictions, and lackluster job growth. Remember, employment remains down by 3.9 million jobs from before government-imposed COVID shutdowns – we’re still playing catch-up. 

Yet we are saddled with utterly unserious politicians in the executive branch. In response to rising gas prices, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that Americans should just go out and buy an electric car, so they would “never have to worry about gas prices again.” The average cost of an electric vehicle is over $55,000! 

We can make life better and more affordable for American families. We can bring back jobs and industry. We can build an economy that truly serves the people. But this means putting aside insane wars against domestic energy producers and forming realistic conceptions of how our countrymen live and work.  

I’ll be fighting for more affordable, cleaner American energy and the jobs it supports. And if there are any Democrats in Washington who are disturbed by their party’s bad policies, I wholeheartedly invite them to join me.  

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