Biden calls for lifting gas tax, blames Putin’s invasion of Ukraine for high prices

Speaking at the White House on Wednesday, President Biden called for the federal gas tax to be suspended for 90 days. He said that the U.S.'s opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is the cause of high gas prices, but that is the cost for “defending freedom, defending democracy.”

Video Transcript

JOE BIDEN: Today I'm calling for a federal gas tax holiday-- state gas tax holiday for the equivalent relief to customers. Oil companies to use their profits to increase refining capacity, rather than buy back their own stock. Gas stations that pass along the decree-- not the decree, but the decrease in oil prices to lower prices at the pump.

And together, these actions could help drop the price at the pump by up to $1 a gallon or more. It doesn't reduce all the pain, but it would be a big help. I'm doing my part. I want the Congress, the states, and the industry to do their part, as well.

And let's remember how we got here. Putin invaded Ukraine. Putin invaded Ukraine with 100,000 forces. Just look at the facts-- since the start of the war in Ukraine this year, gas prices have risen by almost $2 a gallon in the United States, and sometimes more around the world.

But it wasn't just Putin's invasion of Ukraine. It was refusal of the United States and the rest of the free world to let Putin get away with something we haven't seen since World War II. I said at the time, siding with Ukraine during the most serious aggression in Europe since World War II, defending freedom, defending democracy, was not going to go without a cost for the American people, and the rest of the free world.

We were going to have to pay a price, as well, in the cost of military equipment, economic assistance, humanitarian relief, and sanctioned Russian banking industries. Russia is also the largest, or one of the largest oil producers in the world. We cut off Russian oil into the United States, and our partners in Europe did the same, knowing that we would see higher gas prices.

We could have turned a blind eye to Putin's murderous ways, and the price of gas wouldn't have spiked the way it has. I believe that would have been wrong. I believe that then-- I believe then, and I believe now, the free world had no choice. America could not stand by, and the West could not have stood by-- although some suggested at the time-- and just watch Putin's tanks rolling in Ukraine and seize a sovereign country.

If we did stand by, Putin wouldn't have stopped. Putin would have kept going. And we'd face an even steeper price.

And it wasn't just me. The American people understood-- the American people rose to the moment. The American people did what they always have done-- defend freedom around the world.

They chose to stand with the people of Ukraine. We had near unanimous support in the Congress-- Democrats, Republicans, and independents for supporting Ukraine, knowing full well the cost.

So for all those Republicans in Congress criticizing me today for high gas prices in America, are you now saying we were wrong to support Ukraine? Are you saying we were wrong to stand up to Putin? Are you saying that we would rather have lower gas prices in America, and Putin's iron fist in Europe? I don't believe that.