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Biden calls on Congress to approve a 3-month gas tax holiday

President Joe Biden on Wednesday called on Congress to pass legislation that would create a federal tax holiday on gas and diesel fuel for three months in an effort to lower prices at the pump.

The pause would trim 18 cents off a gallon of gas and 24 cents for diesel at a time when the summer driving season is getting underway. The legislation would cost an estimated $10 billion, a senior administration official told reporters on a call.

“I fully understand the gas tax holiday alone is not going to fix the problem,” Biden said in remarks from the White House. “But it will provide families some immediate relief, give them a little bit of breathing room, so we continue working to bring down prices for the long haul.”

Biden asked Congress to make the temporary adjustment in a way that doesn’t harm the Highway Trust Fund, which gets its revenue from fuel taxes. Many lawmakers, mostly on the Republican side of the aisle, have cited the trust fund as a reason they wouldn’t back a gas tax holiday, though some congressional Democrats have also been critical of it.

The Biden administration will face an uphill battle to draw support for its proposal in Congress. A number of Republicans have already come out in opposition to the plan.

Biden said he is also calling on companies to increase refining capacity to lower prices in the long term, and gas station operators to come up with ways to bring down prices.

“These are not normal times, bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the cost you are paying for the product,” Biden said. “Do it now. Do it today, your customers, the American people, they need relief now.”

Democrats are facing significant political headwinds just months away from the November midterm elections, as numerous polls show gas prices and inflation are top concerns for voters.

Biden also called on state and local governments to provide additional consumer relief by pausing state sales tax on gas or similar actions, senior administration officials said.

“States are now in a strong position to be able to afford to take some of these actions,” Biden said.

Several states have previously implemented their own tax holidays.

According to AAA data on Tuesday, the national average price was $4.96, with higher prices in parts of the West Coast and the Midwest.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, who is expected to meet with oil refining executives Thursday, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that “part of the challenge with the gas tax, of course, is that it funds the roads.”

During Granholm’s meeting with energy executives of Thursday she plans to “discuss steps companies can take to increase refining capacity and output and reduce gas prices in the near-term. The meeting will serve as a forum for the industry to share its ideas and bring actionable, near-term solutions to reduce the pain at the pump for the American people,” the Department of Energy said in a statement.

 Biden’s push for a gas tax pause would come months after his administration stepped up its actions to combat gas prices in April by releasing 1 million barrels daily from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and issuing an emergency waiver to suspend a summer ban on the use of a specific ethanol blend of fuel.

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