WASHINGTON -- President Biden will on Wednesday call on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for three months and ask states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide commensurate relief to consumers, according to the White House.
The federal government charges an 18.4-cent tax per gallon of gasoline and a 24.4-cent tax per gallon of diesel. Suspending the tax for three months - through the end of September, as Biden will call for - will cost about $10 billion, according to the White House.
Asked if Biden believes Congress can somehow mandate that oil companies pass on those savings, in full, to consumers, a senior administration official did not directly say, but noted there is "some evidence that state tax suspensions, in particular, do get passed through to consumers."
The official, in a Tuesday evening call with reporters, said "the president is absolutely calling on companies to make sure that those savings are passed through to consumers."
The administration is also putting public pressure on oil companies to help Americans at a time of financial need.
"Companies, of course, are beholden to their shareholders, but they really need to be beholden and conscious of customers, and their fellow neighbors, and their fellow citizens, just like this administration's doing," another senior administration official told reporters. "And we hope that that's the spirit that CEOs of these companies will take."
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is scheduled to meet with oil refining executives Thursday.
On Wednesday, Biden will also call on state and local governments to provide "relief" to Americans by suspending their state gas taxes or provide other remedies, like delaying planned tax and fee increases, or even consumer rebates or relief payments, according to the White House. An official said Biden wants states to "match" what the federal government would be doing in the short term.
State gas taxes average about 31 cents per gallon of gasoline, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.