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Americans who want clarity on how the US government will handle soaring gas prices and heavy student loan debt should get their answer this week, as President Joe Biden is expected to make an announcement on both. Questions.
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Biden said Monday he hopes to decide soon whether to support a federal gas tax waiver, CNN reported. He is also approaching a decision on student loan relief.
“I’m hoping to have a decision based on the data I’m looking for by the end of the week,” Biden told reporters at a Delaware briefing when asked if he supported a gasoline tax exemption.
The federal gasoline tax, currently 18.3 cents a gallon, cannot be waived without congressional approval. That could be a tough sell, given that the money is being used to fund needed infrastructure improvements to the country’s roads and highways, which many lawmakers support.
But the White House is under increasing pressure to lower prices at the pumps as the summer travel season kicks off. The national average recently climbed above $5 a gallon for the first time before dropping 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 US refiners in a letter that the oil industry’s record profit margins were unacceptable. He called for “immediate action” to improve oil production.
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“I want them to explain to me why they’re not refining more oil,” Biden said.
Meanwhile, the White House is also considering whether to send gas discount cards to Americans.
“It’s part of what we’re looking at, it’s part of the whole operation,” Biden said.
As CNN noted, the Biden administration has previously played down the prospect of sending gas rebate cards directly to Americans because the program would be difficult to administer. However, on Monday the president indicated that the idea was still on the table.
On federal student loans, Biden said he and his team are close to deciding whether to cancel student debt, though he didn’t provide further details.
As previously reported by GOBankingRates, Biden suggested earlier that he was likely to delay any firm decision on student loan forgiveness until at least July or August. That would bring his announcement closer to the end of the federal student loan repayment pause, which is scheduled to end on August 31, 2022.
The pause, which took effect in March 2020, relieved millions of federal student borrowers of 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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