Washington, DC — Americans across the country are still struggling to pay sky-high gas prices but President Bush and his Republicans in Congress insist there is nothing they can do to help. Democrats believe the president and the Congress must act now to help lower the price of gas, and today the Senate Democratic Leadership sent the following letter to President Bush with a list of possible actions he could take right now to help the American people.
The text of the letter signed by Senators Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Debbie Stabenow and Chuck Schumer is below.
May 5, 2006
The White House
Dear Mr. President,
Americans are increasingly uneasy about this nation’s energy policies. They see prices at the gas pump that have grown more than 100 percent in the past five years with no relief in sight. They see an Administration and a Congress reward energy companies with billions in tax breaks, even as those companies ring up billions in profits and provide their executives with compensation packages that can only be labeled obscene. And, perhaps most troubling of all, they see our growing dependence on unstable foreign energy sources and your Administration’s continued inattention to the threat of global warming, both of which undermine our nation’s security.
We write today to urge you to provide the leadership needed to address this crisis by immediately utilizing all of the existing powers of your office and to work with us to fashion sound bipartisan legislative solutions. We believe the energy situation requires greater and more effective action and leadership than shown thus far by your Administration and the Republican Congress. Democrats have repeatedly sought to provide temporary relief from rising energy prices. We have sought urgent action to pass a meaningful Federal anti-price gouging law. We have also sought to make the real investments necessary to rapidly shift the course of the nation’s increasing dependency on oil. And we have pushed your Administration to take actions to address the growing concerns of global warming and restore U.S. leadership on this critical issue. Unfortunately, each of our attempts have been blocked by your White House or Congressional Republican leadership.
While you and members of your administration have indicated that you have little power to provide relief to consumers, I believe that there are a number of actions that you could take that would make a difference in both the short and long term. These actions would immediately address the impact of high energy prices on American consumers and the economy and enhance our security. Each of these actions will send the right signal about a change in priorities at the White House and help calm a troubled country.
· Announce your support of enactment of a Federal anti-price gouging law;
· Meet with oil company CEOs in to the White House and ask them to reduce prices, install alternative fuel pumps at gas stations, eliminate massive compensation packages for company officers, and expedite refinery capacity improvements and utilization;
· Establish and implement an aggressive oil-savings goal for the Federal transportation fleet and buy the most fuel-efficient vehicles practicable;
· Implement the loan guarantee programs in last year’s energy bill that would expedite cellulosic ethanol and other alternative fuels development and deployment;
· Send Congress the statutory changes necessary to provide for releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve when the Secretary of Energy considers the situation a “crisis”;
· Send to Congress an fiscally responsible emergency appropriations request that: 1) provides consumers with temporary price relief and 2) launches an Apollo Project-like effort to reverse our increasing dependency on oil by fully funding , programs on alternative and renewable fuels, advanced vehicles, and energy efficiency;
· Help Iraqis restore oil output to pre-war levels – adding approximately 600,000 barrels per day to world supply; and,
· Issue a threat to veto the tax reconciliation conference report if it omits the Senate-passed provision reducing oil company tax breaks by $5 billion
The nation’s national and economic security depends on a more rapid and effective response to the energy price crisis. There any many measures you can take to effectively address this crisis. We urge you to take these actions and look forward to working with you in the days ahead. We must transform the current Administration approach so it better serves consumers and moves the country in the direction of energy independence sooner rather than later.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid
Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Senator Chuck Schumer