Congressional Legislative Update: Cost Of Gasoline, Budget Reconciliation

Last week, the White House criticized “companies running gas stations” for not bringing down the costs of gas.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that retailers and others in the fuel supply chain need to keep pace with falling oil prices.

EMA President Rob Underwood was quoted in the Washington Examiner disputing this claim, saying: “We’re not making any money off of selling gasoline. The store sales — that’s how they can stay in business… In a time of rising prices, it’s so competitive, and sometimes they’re selling gasoline at a loss just to keep people inside the store.”

Underwood also emphasized that the retail fuel market is one of the most competitive in the country.

Build Back Better

On Capitol Hill, attention has turned to a last-ditch effort for Democrats to resurrect a partisan budget reconciliation package.

Throughout June, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) worked to negotiate a deal on a slimmed-down Build Back Better (BBB) bill.

On July 6, these discussions turned into something real as Leader Schumer submitted text for a drug-pricing reform provision to the Senate parliamentarian.

Now, Sens. Schumer and Manchin are holding closed-door negotiations to talk through other elements for inclusion in a reconciliation package.

Sen. Manchin is exploring “a pathway forward to shore up domestic energy production and reduce emissions, lower health care costs for seniors and working families, and ensure everyone is paying their fair share of taxes.”

Details on the agreement are not available but we understand Senator Manchin and Leader Schumer are still negotiating climate and energy provisions, plus tax reform.

Another reported area of agreement could be a tax on pass-through income for high earners that would go towards Medicare solvency.

In previous remarks, Senator Manchin made clear that he opposes direct payments to clean energy developers, preferring tax credits instead.

Senator Manchin and other Democrats also confirmed that a proposed tax credit bonus for EV vehicles produced with union labor has been scrapped.

EMA and other industry leaders fought against this provision during the original BBB discussions last Fall.

Within the $300 billion price tag for energy provisions, Senator Manchin is also interested in including carbon capture and hydrogen tax credits, a methane reduction provision, increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthy, including limited drug-pricing reform, and perhaps extending certain Obamacare health care credits.

Most progressive House Democrats have indicated they would vote for any package Manchin supports.

Nonetheless, Congressional Democrats must address two legislative challenges before the midterm elections.

The first is a shrinking calendar to reach a deal. Any reconciliation agreement must come to fruition before September 30 under Congressional budgetary rules, while limited session days remain as lawmakers will be away from DC for nearly the entire month of August.

Reconciliation bill efforts will dominate the remainder of July.

It is possible more concrete details will be released this week, at which point Democratic leaders will await a ruling by the Senate Parliamentarian as to what provisions are allowed under the Senate’s arcane budgetary rules (also known as a “Byrd Bath”).

Early this week, Leader Schumer told Senate Democrats that a vote on the new package could occur this month.

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