Washington: US President Joe Biden on Wednesday called on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for 90 days, as Americans need immediate relief amid the nation's soaring gas prices.
"By suspending the 18-cent gas tax -- federal gas tax for the next 90 days, we can bring down the price of gas and give families just a little bit of relief," Biden said in a speech at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Wednesday afternoon.
"I call on the companies to pass this along -- every penny of this 18-cents reduction -- to the consumers. This is -- there's no time now for profiteering," said Biden.
The US federal government charges an 18-cent tax per gallon of gas that consumers purchase and a 24-cent tax per gallon of diesel they purchase. It's a tax that's been around for 90 years.
"With the tax revenues up this year and our deficit down over USD 1.6 trillion this year alone, we'll still be able to fix our highways and bring down prices of gas," Biden added.
Republicans, meanwhile, accused Democrats of playing "political games," arguing that the proposed measure is aimed at boosting Democrats' prospects and would soon expire after the midterm elections.
"President Biden is calling for another ineffective stunt to mask the effects of Democrats' inflation. The latest bad idea would barely put a dent in the soaring gas prices on his watch," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Twitter.
"Here is a better idea: What if Democrats stop waging war on affordable American energy?" McConnell said.
In his speech, Biden also called on states to either suspend the state gas tax as well or find other ways to deliver some relief, noting that state gas taxes average another 30 cents per gallon. Biden also urged the industry to refine more oil into gasoline and to bring down gas prices, dismissing Republicans' claim that he is blocking production on federal lands.
Oil companies should use their profits to increase refining capacity rather than buy back their own stock, he added.
US inflation reached the highest level in four decades as consumer prices jumped 7 per cent in 2021, the fastest pace since 1981.
Inflation hit a fresh 39-year high in December 2021 as a drop in energy costs wasn't enough to offset a steady march upward for staples such as food, rent, and cars amid stubborn supply-chain bottlenecks and worker shortage.