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Federal gas tax holiday has pros and cons: State Dems ask for Republican support in Harrisburg

As President Joe Biden calls for a three-month federal gas tax holiday that would suspend a tax of 18.4 cents per gallon of gas and 24.4 cents for diesel that drivers pay when they fill their tanks, a federal legislator serving Williamsport and the region says he would rather see the administration allow drilling for natural gas and open major gas-oil pipelines.

“President Biden continues to avoid real solutions to address skyrocketing energy prices because the root cause of this crisis is his anti-American energy policies,” said U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-Kreamer.

The administration, however, is billing the gas tax holiday as a way to provide some pause on pain at the pumps as it works to bring costs down over the long term.

The pause, which the White House envisions lasting through September, would require congressional approval. “Lifting the $0.18 federal gas tax would do little to provide relief to Americans when the national average price for a gallon of gas is hovering around five dollars — double the price since President Biden entered office,” Keller said.

He continued: “President Biden’s proposal would have the added negative effect of starving the Highway Trust Fund, which finances improvements to our roads and bridges.”

Biden said the administration has reduced the deficit by $1.6 trillion and he is calling on states to follow suit on gas tax holidays.

Keller said the solution is to restore Pennsylvania’s energy independence.

“The American people are looking for real solutions, not more half-measures from this President and his administration,” Keller said.

“President Biden must immediately reopen federal lands for domestic energy, expedite the approval process for oil and gas leases, restart the Keystone XL Pipeline, fast track other needed pipelines to get energy to market, and commit to American energy dominance rather than threatening to end all fossil fuel use.”

“There is no one solution to bring gas prices down, but President Biden and Democrats in Congress are working to lower costs for families at the pump and beyond,” said

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, regarding the gas tax holiday.

“The President has taken executive action to bolster our oil supply and I am pushing for legislation to rebate oil companies’ excessive profits to consumers.

“As we consider a gas tax holiday, we must ensure we are able to continue maintaining and improving our infrastructure,” Casey said.

Casey continued: “President Biden is working on solutions while Republicans are criticizing him without offering any ideas of their own. It is long past time for my colleagues across the aisle to work with us in good faith to lower costs for families. Pennsylvanians and all Americans need relief.”

State gas tax holiday requested

State gas tax is roughly 58 cents per gallon, which is considered to be the highest in the nation.

Gov. Tom Wolf has frequently asked for a phasing out of gas tax in favor of enacting gas tax holidays.

This week, too, the state Senate Democratic Caucus called on the Republican majority in their chamber to run a gas tax holiday bill.

Senate Democratic Appropriations Committee Chairman Vincent Hughes said Wednesday that a three-month gas tax holiday would carry a $950 million price tag but that could be offset with the state’s historic budget surplus, according to PennLive.

The state’s average cost of gasoline is just above $5 per gallon, according to AAA.

Combining the suspension of state and federal gas taxes for three months would lower the price per gallon to about 75 cents.

Without the state gas tax holiday, consumers would, on average, save $20 per month on gasoline costs — based on average driving, not excesses or long travel.

When queried about the gas tax holiday being proposed by state Democrats, state Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock Township, said, “I am opposed.”

While he agreed everyone should pay less for gas, a gas holiday would only create more problems.

“It would exacerbate the inflationary things we are dealing with today.”

He said it could end up causing gas shortages with people going as far as hoarding gasoline.

“The root problem is refinery capacity along with cost of crude oil per barrel,” he said. “The gas holiday will fix neither one of those problems.”

Wheeland said the gas holiday is merely an election year ploy by Democrats.

State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, referred to the gas holiday as “a gimmick.”

“It’s not going to solve our problems,” he said. “While it sounds like a good idea, it takes a lot of money away from programs we depend upon.”

Yaw said he would be concerned about the consequences of a gas tax holiday.

“What happens after the end of three months?” he asked. “What if the price of gas doesn’t come down and then we have to add it back in?”

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