By Caleb Hampton
Last Thursday, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, along with Reps. John Larson, D-Ct., and Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., introduced the Gas Rebate Act of 2022 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation, which is meant to address high gas prices, would send Americans an energy rebate of $100 per month — plus and additional $100 for each dependent — for each month for the rest of 2022 in which the national average gas price exceeds $4 per gallon.
Thompson is running this year to represent California’s new 4th district, which includes most of Yolo County, in the House of Representatives. The Democratic members of Congress introduced the gas rebate legislation weeks after gas prices, already elevated, surged to their highest in more a decade, topping $6 per gallon in much of California. (According to AAA, today’s national average gas price is $4.27.)
According to experts, there are multiple causes for the surge in gas prices, ranging from the slow resumption of oil production during the pandemic to sanctions placed on Russia, a major oil exporter, following its invasion of Ukraine. With the price of gas closely tied to Russia’s war on Ukraine, industry experts expect prices to remain elevated for weeks if not months.
“Americans are feeling the impact at the pump of Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and right now we must work together on commonsense policy solutions to ease the financial burden that my constituents are feeling,” Thompson said. He added that the rebate is intended “to provide middle-class Americans with monthly payments to ease the financial burden of this global crises.”
Similar to federal economic impact payments that were sent to many Americans during the pandemic, the gas rebate is be targeted to low and middle-income families and individuals. People who filed their taxes single and earned less than $75,000 last year would receive the full $100 per month rebate, as would joint filers who earned less than $150,000. The rebate phases out for those who earned more than $75,000.
Meanwhile, California taxpayers could see additional rebate money if state leaders approve a similar proposal announced Wednesday by several state lawmakers. The group of Democratic legislators called for a $400 one-time rebate to be sent to every Californian to soften the blow of surging gas prices.
Republican lawmakers in California have pushed for a different form of relief: suspending the state’s 51 cents-per-gallon gas tax, which primarily generates funding for highway maintenance, road repairs and public transit. Due to opposition from Democrats, that proposal appears to be a longshot.
“This proposed $400 rebate would cover the current 51 cents-per-gallon gas tax for one full year, 52 trips to the pump for most vehicles,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state leaders.
“We believe a rebate is a better approach than suspending the gas tax — which would severely impact funding for important transportation projects and offers no guarantee that oil companies would pass on the savings to consumers,” the letter said.
The $400 gas rebate proposal came from a group of 10 Democrats, including Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, and one independent. The lawmakers said it should be considered as part of the state budget negotiations scheduled to begin in late spring.