Sen. Joe Manchin is skeptical about President Joe Biden's call for a gas tax holiday, saying he's concerned that it will create "another hole" in the national budget and that the break won't be lifted after three months.
"I'm not a 'yes' right now, that's for sure," the West Virginia Democrat, who has been a 'no' on several Biden budgetary plans, told ABC News before the president made his announcement Wednesday.
All revenues from the federal gas tax have been going into the Highway Trust Fund for the past 25 years, and Manchin, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told ABC that Congress added another $118 billion into the fund, the major source of money for the nation's highways, roads, and bridges, through the bipartisan infrastructure package.
"To do that and put another hole into the budget is something that is very concerning to me, and people need to understand that 18 cents is not going to be straight across the board," Manchin said. "It never has been that you'll see an 18 cents exactly penny-for-penny come off of that price."
Biden has called for a suspension of the tax through September. The tax collects about 18 cents from each gallon of gasoline purchased and 24 cents per gallon for diesel.
Manchin, though, said the September end date also creates political ramifications.
"Which politician up here is going to be voting to put that 18-cent tax back on a month before, then Manchin further pointed out that people who drive electric vehicles are not paying taxes "proportionately," even though they use the same roads and bridges to travel.
"They're paying nothing, so, we need a lot of adjustments made," said Manchin.
Manchin also called on members of Congress to think more about their constituents, who are suffering from inflation after the pandemic, and after COVID-19 stimulus funds were poured into the economy.
"We put over $5 trillion out into the marketplace and it's all forgotten, and all we have now is higher inflation and more hardship on people that need some good decisions here in the Congress," he said. "We just need to start looking at the long-term effect of what we are doing and how we are doing it."
Manchin is not the only Democrat speaking out against the tax break.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the tax holiday is a "temporary only" solution to the high gas prices, and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who negotiated the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill last year, said he's concerned about the impact the break would have on the Highway Trust Fund.
"I want to make very clear if we were to take this action, it's easy to take away this tax but it's hard to put one back on," Warner said.
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said he is willing to support the gas tax holiday but does not know if it will have enough support to pass the Senate.
Republican leaders are slamming Biden's plan as a political play that would have no effect.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor that the proposed holiday is an "ineffective stunt to mask the Democrats' war on affordable American energy."
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the second-ranking Senate Republican, called the tax holiday "political gimmickry."
"I think a lot of things being suggested by the administration are very gimmicky, short-term, and I wonder if they would have any real impact," he said. "It's not the right long-term solution."
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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