Pelosi and Schumer Discuss Legislative Moves to Cut Gasoline Prices and Tackle Inflation

(Bloomberg) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer met to discuss possible legislation to reduce gasoline prices, according to a Democratic aide, as inflation poses an increasing political threat ahead of the midterm election.

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Leaders are hoping to pass legislation dealing with gas prices before the end of May but would need Republican cooperation in the Senate to do so. The GOP is pushing for expanded fossil fuel production domestically, something progressive Democrats may be unable to support.

Rising prices are a top concern for many voters, and Democrats already face a tough road to holding on to control of the House and Senate in the November election. The Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, out Friday, is estimated to have risen 6.7% in March from a year earlier. The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $4.134, up from $2.885 a year ago, according to AAA.

Schumer this week has been talking about moving a bill that would beef up the Federal Trade Commission‘s ability to stop gas price manipulation.

“There is something deeply wrong, deeply wrong, about seeing the largest oil and gas companies in the world drench top executives and wealthy shareholders with cash while Americans are struggling at the pump,” Schumer said Monday on the Senate floor.

“Democrats are also discussing – and will consider – other potential action to beef up the FTC’s ability to crack down on price gouging in industries, including the oil industry. We will have more to say on this as the week progresses,” he said.

The American Petroleum Institute said the proposed FTC bill is without merit because price gouging is not driving up prices at the pump.

“This is an industry of price takers, not price makers, and repeated in-depth investigations by the FTC have shown that changes in gasoline prices are based on market factors and not due to illegal behavior,” said API senior Vice President of Policy, Economics and Regulatory Affairs Frank Macchiarola, API senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs, said.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries told reporters that the House hopes to vote on a gasoline price bill in the coming weeks. A gas-tax holiday is on the table as well as other elements to address supply chain issues, he said.

A House panel earlier this month held a hearing to excoriate executives of six oil companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP America Inc., accusing them of exploiting the war in Ukraine and a surge in crude prices to reap windfall profits at the expense of American motorists.

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