Gov. Whitmer again asks President Biden to suspend federal gas tax

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer renewed her push on Tuesday to urge President Joe Biden to support temporarily pausing the federal gas tax amid soaring prices at the pump.

Whitmer sent a letter to Biden, a fellow Democrat for whom she's been a key ally, arguing that the suspension of the tax of 18.4 cents per gallon "will offer real, immediate relief without compromising the federal government’s ability to make infrastructure investments."

"The American people are counting on all of us to provide real relief right now so they can pay the bills and put food on the table," Whitmer wrote in the letter. "Let us draw on the grit and determination our working families show every day.

"I urge you to work with Congress to temporarily pause the federal gas tax, and I pledge to continue finding creative ways to put money back in people’s pockets."

Biden is expected to make a decision on a gas tax suspension in the coming days.

"Yes, I’m considering it. I hope to have a decision based on the data – I’m looking for by the end of the week," Biden said Monday, according to the Associated Press.

As of Tuesday, the national average price of gas was $4.97 a gallon for regular fuel, up from $3.07 a year ago, according to AAA. In Michigan, the average price was higher, $5.14 a gallon.

In March, Whitmer and five other governors called on congressional leaders to suspend the federal gas tax until the end of the year. But on April 1, she vetoed Republican-backed legislation in Michigan that attempted to suspend for six months the state's 27-cent-per-gallon excise tax on fuel. 

Whitmer has emphasized that proposal didn't have the required two-thirds support to take effect immediately, meaning the bill's effective date would be delayed until 2023.

The "misguided proposal does nothing for Michiganders facing pain at the pump right now," Whitmer said previously.

Republican legislative leaders countered that Democratic lawmakers voted against letting the state gas tax suspension take immediate effect.

In her letter to Biden on Tuesday, Whitmer called "rising prices on everyday expenses" "unsustainable."

She's proposed issuing $500 rebates to "Michigan's working families right away." But Republicans who control the state Legislature want longer term tax cuts as part of ongoing budget negotiations in Lansing.