WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — With Americans paying more at the pump, Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on the root of the problem and therefore aren’t on the same page about solutions.
Democrats say the problem is big oil companies.
“They’re jacking up their prices,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said. “They’re using Putin’s unprovoked war as a reason to raise gas prices and increase shareholder and executive payouts. I think it’s morally reprehensible.”
She argued that the companies are refusing to pump more oil, keeping the prices up. She has introduced a bill to make it illegal for oil companies to increase gas prices during periods of international crisis.
“We need to prosecute them for violations of criminal and civil laws, including gasoline price gouging,” Duckworth said.
Hers is the latest in a series of Democratic proposals aimed at lowering gas prices. Other bills would create a gas tax holiday to help bring down average prices by 18 cents per gallon or capture excess profits from oil companies and use the money to send Americans direct stimulus checks.
Republicans say the bills are just gimmicks.
“This isn’t helping anyone,” Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., said at a Wednesday press conference with other Senate Republicans. “We need to come up with solutions.”
Republicans said if Democrats want to help customers, they need to reverse President Joe Biden’s energy policies and allow more oil drilling.
“We need to increase American energy production. … This means eliminating regulations, not adding to them,” Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., said.
“I just plead and beg of this administration: Step up,” Hyde-Smith said.
But Democrats say oil companies are sitting on thousands of unused drilling permits.
“Because they would rather have higher gas prices,” Duckworth said, “and that’s what I’m trying to go against.”
The White House is also placing the blame on big oil.