Frustrated by inaction from Democrats on earmarks and gas prices, House Republicans are tying the two issues together in hopes of forcing Congress to act. Legislation introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would suspend the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax for the summer. To avoid impacting the Highway Trust Fund, Ryan’s bill would freeze all taxpayer-funded earmarks.
The bill has the support the conservative Republican Study Committee and immediately won the backing of House Minority Leader John Boehner:
For far too long, taxpayers have been footing the bill for billions upon billions in wasteful Washington spending that our nation neither needs nor can afford. An earmark ban will halt this pork-barrel spending until Congress comes up with a straightforward plan to reform the earmark process and restore some sanity to the federal budget.
The gas-price debate is nothing new for Congress. When Republicans were in the majority, then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi promised a “commonsense plan” to lower the cost. But since Pelosi became speaker, average gas prices have risen from $2.33 per gallon to $3.64 per gallon today, according to AAA.
The debate in the Senate is just as contentious, where Senate Democrats yesterday proposed a windfall profits tax that would slap an additional 25% tax on all oil industry earnings beyond what they defined as “reasonable.”