Americans seeking more clarity on how the U.S. government will deal with surging gasoline prices and burdensome student loan debt should get their answer this week, as President Joe Biden is expected to make an announcement addressing both matters.
Biden on Monday said he hopes to decide soon whether to support a federal gas tax holiday, CNN reported. He’s also nearing a decision on student loan relief,.
“I hope to have a decision based on the data I’m looking for by the end the week,” Biden told reporters at a press briefing in Delaware when asked whether he supports a gas tax holiday.
The federal gas tax, currently 18.3 cents a gallon, cannot be paused without approval from Congress. That might be a tough sell, considering that the money is used to fund needed infrastructure improvements to the nation’s roads and highways, which many lawmakers support.
But the White House has come under increasing pressure to ease prices at the pump as the summer travel season kicks in. The national average recently soared above $5 a gallon for the first time before dipping to $4.968 this week, according to AAA.
Biden also said his staff would meet with oil industry executives this week, Fortune reported. Last week, the president told U.S. refiners in a letter that record profit margins in the oil industry are unacceptable. He called for “immediate action” to improve oil production.
“I want an explanation from them as to why they aren’t refining more oil,” Biden said.
Meanwhile, the White House is also weighing whether to send Americans gas rebate cards.
“That’s part of what we’re considering, that’s part of the whole operation,” Biden said.
As CNN noted, the Biden administration previously downplayed the prospect of sending gas rebate cards directly to Americans because the program would be hard to administer. However, on Monday the president indicated that the idea is still on the table.
On the topic of federal student loans, Biden said he and his team are close to a decision on whether to forgive student debt, though he didn’t provide any further details.
As previously reported by GOBankingRates, Biden earlier suggested that he’s likely to delay any firm decision on student loan forgiveness until at least July or August. That would push his announcement closer to the end of the federal student loan repayment pause, which is scheduled to stop on August 31, 2022.
The pause, which went into effect in March 2020, has given millions of federal student borrowers relief from student debt during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although Biden said on the 2020 campaign trail that he supports some form of student loan forgiveness, many lawmakers oppose the idea.
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