WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — With inflation hitting a 40-year high last month, President Joe Biden’s administration says the problem is being compounded by the war in Ukraine — but Republicans aren’t on board with that explanation.
“This is a national emergency,” Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said during a Thursday press conference alongside fellow Republicans in the Senate.
“Bacon is expensive as filet mignon used to be,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., added.
Federal data released Thursday showed inflation at 7.9% from February 2021 to February 2022. The painful surge in gas prices spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — most of which happened after the period accounted for in the data — is expected to drive consumer prices even higher.
“It’s due to the (Biden) administration’s policies,” Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., said.
She and fellow Midwest lawmakers said part of the solution is promoting ethanol blended from domestically grown corn, with Thune saying the resource is “readily available to displace Russian oil,” which the U.S. is no longer importing.
Th Biden administration has not answered called to expand the use of ethanol. It says Americans should expect to see fuel prices continue to rise. But, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “we also believe it will be temporary.”
She said the White House is doing what it can to bring gas prices down.
“Including coordinating a … release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ensure we’re increasing supply,” Psaki aid.
She also cautioned the invasion will continue to create new challenges.
Meanwhile, Democrats like Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio are calling for more aggressive action to ensure big oil isn’t unfairly marking up prices.
“We’re working on legislation that would tax excess profits in the oil industry — and they’re huge — and plow that money back into people’s pockets,” Brown said.
There are also growing calls to launch a federal gas tax holiday, but many Republicans say the best solution is expanding domestic oil production.