Senate Democrats

Reid: The Senate Must Stand on the Side of Consumers

A Majority of the Senate Calls for Anti-Price Gouging Legislation

Washington, DC – Today, a majority of the United States Senate came together to call for an end to gas price gouging and for the Congress to take immediate action to protect consumers. 57 Senators from both sides of the aisle came together today to join Senator Cantwell in creating a federal price gouging law to stop oil companies from abusing the law at the pain of American families at the pump.

“The Senate has spoken loud and clear today that it is time to take action against gas price gouging,” said Senator Reid. “It is clear that the federal government needs to stand on the side of consumers, not the special interests. I hope the Senate will continue to move this legislation forward in time to respond to high energy prices and market manipulation.”

“Americans will spend over $200 billion more on energy this year than they did last year,” Senator Maria Cantwell, a member of the Senate Energy Committee said. “That’s hundreds of billions of dollars coming directly out of family budgets and the bottom lines of businesses across the country. I care about American consumers, about struggling family farms, and about airline employees about to loose their pensions, and I’m going to keep fighting to make price gouging a federal crime.”

Based on Cantwell’s measures to ban Enron-style manipulation schemes in the electricity industry, which became law as part of the recent energy bill, Cantwell’s legislation empowers federal regulators to ensure greater market transparency and go after companies for manipulation of oil and gas prices. It also gives the president the authority to declare national energy emergencies during which proven price gougers would be subject to new fines and criminal penalties.

Democrats have called on Congress to address record-high fuel costs and has continued to fight to ensure fairness for consumers in the energy industry. Yesterday in a letter to Chairman Ted Stevens of the Commerce Committee and Chairman Pete Domenici of the Energy Committee, Democratic Senators requested that hearings reconvene as soon as possible to take sworn testimony from oil CEOs about their roles in the Cheney energy task force and the recent run-up in American fuel prices. Senators also called on the Justice Department to investigate the alleged false statements.