Biden Says He’s Considering Suspension of Gas Tax, Extension of Student Debt Pause

Biden Says He’s Considering Suspension of Gas Tax, Extension of Student Debt Pause
President Joe Biden speaks to reporters in Rehoboth Beach, Del., on June 20, 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

A decision on suspending the gas tax could come by the end of the week, President Joe Biden said on June 20.

“I hope I have a decision, based on data I’m looking for, by the end of the week,” Biden told reporters in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where he retreats to most weekends.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, a Biden appointee, said over the weekend while on ABC’s “This Week” that suspending the gas tax is “an idea that’s certainly worth considering.”

Gas prices have skyrocketed since Biden took office, along with the costs of food and shelter.

Some states have suspended taxes on gas and a number of Democrats in Congress have urged Biden to do the same on a federal level.

The federal government imposes an 18.3 cent gas tax per gallon and 24.3 cents for diesel.

“I ask you to consider executive actions that would provide any immediate relief to these rising energy prices. Two immediate options include additional, and greater, releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and enacting a holiday on the federal fuel tax through the end of the year,” Rep. Sharice Davids (R-Kan.) wrote to Biden earlier this year.

The administration has been releasing 1 million gallons a day from the reserve, but that has done little to solve the problem.

Not all Democrats are on board with a gas tax holiday. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) told Biden in a recent letter that suspending the tax would not necessarily reduce prices and could end up primarily serving the interests of oil companies.

The president on Monday also said he was close to making a decision on student debt.

“It’s all on the table,” he said, when asked whether he might extend the pause on payments.

Former President Donald Trump started the pause on student debt payments, and Biden had extended the pause multiple times, even after his administration vowed to let it lapse.

The last extension, done in April, extended the pause through Aug. 31.

The moratorium enables those with student loans to not submit payments without suffering repercussions.

It was originally enacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden said in April that if loan payments were to resume in May, borrowers would face “significant economic hardship,” that could “threaten Americans’ financial stability.”

Borrowers have expressed appreciation for the pause.

But the administration has faced pressure to let the pause lapse, with a coalition of groups in March saying it “is fundamentally unfair and is a special favor for affluent elites at the expense of low- and middle-income Americans.”