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A top White House adviser on Wednesday said the Biden administration’s proposal to suspend the federal gas tax was not a “silver bullet,” but stressed it was a temporary solution along with other measures to help Americans’ wallets.
Gene Sperling, a senior economic adviser to President Biden, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd the administration supported a gas tax holiday because it could get bipartisan support, but added “we’re not taking ideas off the table.”
“What the American people ask of us is do everything you can,” Sperling said. “There’s no silver bullet, but that doesn’t excuse you from taking all action that you have an ability to take.”
Biden on Wednesday afternoon officially called on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for 90 days and on states to suspend their own gas taxes. The federal gas tax is 18 cents per gallon, while the state average is 26 cents per gallon.
Four states — Maryland, Georgia, Connecticut, New York — have already suspended state gas taxes amid a 40-year high in inflation and sky-high prices at the pump. Florida is suspending its gas tax for one month in October.
The national average for a gallon of gas is around $5 per gallon, sparked by a myriad of factors including Russia’s war in Ukraine. Biden already announced over the spring the release of one million barrels of oil a day from the national stockpile to bolster supply.
A federal gas tax suspension is likely to meet a hurdle in Congress as concerns have mounted over how much relief Americans will get at the pump and because the gas tax is used to fund infrastructure improvements.
Biden on Wednesday said he understands “a gas tax holiday alone is not going to fix the problem.”
“But it will provide families some immediate relief, just a little bit of breathing room, as we continue working to bring down prices for the long haul,” he said in his speech.
The Biden administration is also asking for oil refineries to produce more gasoline and is meeting with industry executives this week.
Biden will also travel to Saudi Arabia next month in a trip to the Middle East, where he is expected to ask for the major oil producing nation to increase production. The trip has drawn some scrutiny because of the country’s reported human rights violations.
Sperling told “Meet the Press” on Wednesday that Biden is “trying to do what we can to expand oil supply.”
“This is a time of war. We want to stand strong on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. But we want to provide relief at the at the gas pump for Americans. And so we’re looking for things that that fit into that, you know, into that mode,” he said.