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Congress considers move that would lower gas prices by nearly 20 cents

February 9, 2022, 3:30 PM UTC

As gas prices continue to steadily climb, a contingent of Democratic senators is calling for the suspension of the federal gas tax—a move that could find some broader support as midterm elections draw near.

Should the proposal be accepted, it could reduce the price of gas by 18.4 cents per gallon, the amount at which the tax has stayed since 1993 (though there was talk before the pandemic of increasing it significantly).

Democratic senators Mark Kelly (Arizona) and Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire) are behind the legislation. Four other Democrats have signed on as cosponsors, AP reports. Republicans have yet to commit to the idea, though, which could signal a floor fight.

Under the proposal, the Treasury Department would make up the lost funds (which pay for public transit and highway projects) by transferring general funds into the trust fund usually financed by the tax. It would also task the Treasury Department with ensuring oil and gas companies are passing along the savings to consumers.

The proposal regarding the federal gas tax comes as several state legislatures are debating the suspension or repeal of state fuel taxes. Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom recommended the state pause its planned increase in the Gasoline State Excise Tax during 2022. Missouri, also, is debating a bill that would repeal the motor fuel tax that began last October and is set to increase steadily for the next several years.

The national average for a gallon of regular gas currently stands at $3.47, according to AAA. That’s 7 cents higher than a week ago and 17 cents higher than a month ago. (It’s a full dollar more per gallon when compared to this day in 2021.)

And AAA says it sees no signs of slowing in those increases, due to winter weather and higher oil prices because of geopolitical tensions.

“This shows how events on the other side of the globe can have a noticeable impact right here in the U.S.,” said AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross, in a statement. “And unfortunately for drivers, they are reminded of this by higher prices at the pump.”

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