The White House is weighing sending Americans gas rebate cards, an idea they previously nixed because of chip shortages, report says
- The White House is again weighing sending out gas rebate cards, the Washington Post reported.
- But an ongoing chip shortage and the necessity of congressional approval present hurdles.
The White House is again weighing sending out gas rebate cards to American drivers, an idea they previously scrapped due to a shortage of the chips needed to manufacture and produce the cards, the Washington Post reported on Friday.
The gas rebate is one of several proposals the White House is considering to provide relief for Americans facing persistently high gas prices. The nationwide average price of a gallon of regular gas surpassed $5 over the weekend, according to AAA, and in some highly-populated states, like California, the rise in gas prices is even more acute.
But in addition to the chip shortage, White House officials have noted that another flaw in the proposal to send out gas rebate cards is a lack of an enforcement mechanism to ensure that recipients would actually spend the rebate money at the gas pump, the Post reported.
The money for the gas rebates would also have to be appropriated by Congress, the Post noted, and getting both chambers on board with the amount of money required to provide cards to millions of American motorists could be an uphill battle.
The Trump administration similarly promised to send out $200 prescription discount cards to over 30 million seniors on Medicare right before the 2020 presidential election.
"Nobody's seen this before, these cards are incredible," President Donald Trump said in September 2020. "The cards will be mailed out in coming weeks, I will always take care of our wonderful senior citizens. Joe Biden won't be doing this."
But those drug discount cards were never ultimately sent out, in part because Congress hadn't allocated the funds for them and the administration couldn't secure another funding source.
The spike in gas prices is caused by a number of factors, including a mismatch between oil supply and demand, after the world's biggest oil producers slashed production during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to keep prices down.
The US and European Union's bans on oil exports from Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine is another factor constraining global oil supply and thus pushing prices higher across the board. The ongoing slowdown of US fracking has also reduced the supply of domestic natural gas, Insider's Ben Winck recently reported.
Biden has already released millions of barrels of the US' strategic oil reserve to help bolster supply, and has put pressure on the world's largest oil companies to increase supply.
But those measures have done little to abate high gas prices, highlighting the political challenges for the White House as the 2022 midterms near and voters are increasingly concerned over rising prices and dissatisfied with Biden's handling of the economy.
The White House is also considering using the Defense Production Act to maintain a steady supply of the diesel fuel that truckers rely on, the Post said, and advising state governors to slash their state-level gas taxes, the Post reported, as some state governors have already done.
But Biden himself has reportedly been ambivalent about some of his own administration's ideas to increase supply and bring down prices.
The Post previously reported on Monday that Biden himself privately cast doubt on his own administration's plans to pivot to domestically-produced biofuels like ethanol as a way of addressing the lack of supply of oil imported from abroad.
Biden, who traveled to Iowa in April to tout the plan on the advice of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, later questioned the utility of the policy and whether it would actually undermine his administration's own climate initiatives, sources told the Post.