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January 6 Committee Obtains New Documentary Footage; President Biden Calls For Gas Tax Holiday. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 22, 2022 - 14:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Victor Blackwell. Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And I'm Alisyn Camerota.

President Biden is expected to lay out his latest plan to get gas prices under control this afternoon. Specifically, he will ask Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for three months. But some economists worry that the savings will not be passed along to the consumer.

They say the gas companies, which are already seeing record profits, would benefit instead.

BLACKWELL: CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins joins us live now.

So, first, what are we expecting on hearing from the president?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So he's going to be pushing for this three-month gas tax holiday. And, basically, that would mean a 90-day suspension of the federal gas tax.

And if you're wondering what that's going to save you when you're actually at the pump, right now, the federal gas tax is about 18 cents for a regular gas of gallon and about 24 cents for a gallon of diesel fuel, so not really that big of a difference when you're looking at an average price of gas and is getting close to $5. Of course, it topped $5 earlier this month, Victor and Alisyn.

So that's been a big question for lawmakers, because getting this done is not just something that the president can do on his own. Yes, he's about to call for it any moment now. But it really requires an act of Congress on Capitol Hill to actually get this passed.

And you're already seeing some concern, even from Democrats in the president's own party about whether or not this would actually make that big of a difference and if it's worth what it would do. One of those concerns has come from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said she was worried that they would enact this gas tax holiday and then they wouldn't actually have those companies pass those savings on to consumers.

So that's the big question for the White House today on whether or not this will make a difference or not.

CAMEROTA: OK, Kaitlan, thank you very much.

CNN's Matt Egan is here with us.

So, Matt, let's talk about this. I mean, obviously, 18 cents a gallon, it doesn't sound like that much, 24 cents per gallon of diesel, but it's not nothing. And is there a way to ensure that the gas companies don't just hoard it all?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, it's not nothing.

I think every little bit helps. But this really is not going to move the needle much. I mean, we're talking about less than 4 percent the price of gas. That's what we're debating here. Let me break it down for you. Let's say you have a 15-gallon tank of gas. Every time you fill up, this is going to save you $2.70.

Now you could argue it helps psychologically, right, because the national average is still very high, $4.96 a gallon. That is uncomfortably close to $5, especially if you're sitting in the White House or up for reelection in Congress. But there are some tradeoffs here, right?

I mean, one, it doesn't fix supply, which is too low. It actually supports demand, which is too high right now. Also, there's no guarantee that the savings get passed along to consumers. It has gotten passed along mostly at the state level.

But Goldman Sachs just put out a report saying that may not be the case at the federal level. And let's not forget about the loss of revenue here, right? I mean, the gas tax goes to fund the repair and building of roads. And those costs have only gone up.

I think this is why, back in the spring of 2008, future President Obama blasted this idea of a gas tax holiday as a gimmick. I mean, in a lot of ways, this does feel like more of a political move than one really aimed at fixing the underlying issues.

BLACKWELL: All right, we are told that the president is walking out now to discuss this proposal.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... the actions I'm announcing to bring down gas prices.

First, today, I'm calling on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for the next 90 days, through the busy summer season, busy travel season. Here's what that means. Every time you go to the gas station to fill your tank, the federal government charges an 18-cent tax per gallon of gas that you purchase and a 24-cent tax per gallon of diesel you purchase.

It's a tax that's been around for 90 years. It's important because we use it for the Highway Trust Fund to keep our highways going. But what I'm proposing is suspending the federal gas tax, without affecting the Highway Trust Fund.

And here's how we do that. With the tax revenues up this year and our deficit down over $1.6 trillion this year alone, we will still be able to fix our highways and bring down the prices of gas. We can do both at the same time.

By suspending the 18-cent, federal gas tax, for the next 90 days, we can bring down the price of gas and give families just a little bit of relief. I call on the companies to pass this along, every penny of this 18-cent reduction, to the consumers.


This is -- there's no time now for profiteering. There are a number of other proposals by Democrats in the House and the Senate. And I hope my call for action can help move those proposals forward as well. But we can also cut gas prices even more in another way.

That's why the second action I'm taking is calling on states to either suspend the state gas tax as well or find other ways to deliver some relief. State gas taxes average 30 cents per gallon. Already, some states have acted. In Connecticut and New York, the governors have temporarily suspended their gas tax as well.

In Illinois and Colorado, governors delayed theirs to give families a bit more breathing room as well. In Minnesota, Governor Walz proposes using state budget surpluses to give households a rebate that will help them pay for gas at the pump or other essential needs.

I'm calling on more states and local governments to take actions like these. Thanks to our historic economic recovery, which fortified state budgets that had been hurt in the pandemic, states are now in a strong position to be able to afford to take some of these actions.

Now, I fully understand that a gas tax holiday alone is not going to fix the problem, but it will provide families some immediate relief, just a little bit of breathing room, as we continue working to bring down prices for the long haul.

Third, I'm calling on the industry to refine more oil into gasoline and to bring down gas prices.

Let me explain. I know my Republican friends claim we're not producing enough oil and I'm limiting oil production. Quite frankly, that's nonsense. Here's the truth. Just this month, America produced 12 million barrels of oil per day. That's the highest -- that's higher than average under my predecessor.

And we're on track to set a new record for production next year. Plus, I have added to that supply of oil by releasing a record one million barrels of oil per day from what's called the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. In fact, I just led the world to coordinate the largest release of global oil reserves in history, including from other countries.

In total, that's 240 million barrels to boost global supply. And Republicans falsely claim that I'm blocking production on federal lands. But, again, that's nonsense. The industry has more approved permits for production federal land than they can possibly use. That's a fact.

My administration also directed the sale of gasoline using homegrown biofuels, ethanol, E15, this summer, which will boost gasoline supplies and lower the price at thousands of gas stations across America.

And I welcome the announcement from what's known as the OPEC Plus, a group of nearly two dozen oil-producing nations, to increase global oil supply. The bottom line is, we are setting records in terms of American energy production. We're supplementing that supply with release from our oil reserves.

So the issue isn't oil production alone. The problem is the refining of that oil and the gas at the pump. During the pandemic, some oil and gas companies shut down refining facilities. Last week, I sent a letter to the CEOs of the largest oil refining companies asking them to work with my administration to bring refineries back online to get more gas to the pump at lower prices.

The secretary of energy, Jennifer Granholm, and members of my team will be meeting with many of these refining companies tomorrow. And I hope they will come up to the table with some real ideas and practical steps in the near term. And I'm prepared to act quickly and decisively on the recommendations if they make sense to address the immediate challenge in front of us and the American people.

Finally, when the cost of oil does come down, we need the price at the gas stations, what they charge at the pump, to come down as well. For example, in the last two weeks, the price of oil has fallen by more than $10 a barrel. Normally, this would reduce the cost at the pump about 25 cents a gallon.

Yet, so far, gas stations have only reduced prices by a few cents a gallon. Some haven't reduced prices at all. I have heard plenty of explanations from companies and economists about why it normally takes time for these price reductions to reach the consumer.


I might note that, if the price of a barrel of oil goes up, it doesn't make take -- make -- take much time for the price at the pump to go up.

So, let's be honest with one another. My message is simple to the companies running gas stations and setting those prices at the pump. This is a time of war, global peril, Ukraine. These are not normal times. Bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the costs you are paying for the product. Do it now. Do it today.

Your customers, the American people, they need relief now. So, let me summarize. Today, I'm calling for a federal gas tax holiday, state gas tax holiday for the equivalent relief to customers, oil companies to use their profits to increase refining capacity, rather than buy back their own stock, gas stations to pass along the decree -- excuse me -- not the decree, but to decrease in oil prices to lower prices at the pump.

And, together, these actions could help drop the price at the pump by up to $1 a gallon or more. It doesn't reduce all the pain, but it would be a big help.

I'm doing my part. I want the Congress and states and the industry to do their part as well.

And let's remember how we got here. Putin invaded Ukraine. Putin invaded Ukraine with 100,000 forces. Just look at the facts. Since the start of the war in Ukraine this year, gas prices have risen by almost $2 a gallon in the United States, and sometimes more around the world.

But it wasn't just Putin's invasion of Ukraine. It was refusal of the United States and the rest of the free world to let Putin get away with something we haven't seen since World War II. I said at the time siding with Ukraine during the most serious aggression in Europe since World War II, defending freedom, defending democracy was not going to go without cost for the American people and the rest of the free world.

We were going to have to pay a price as well in the cost of military equipment, economic assistance, humanitarian relief, and sanctioned Russian banking industries. Russia's also the largest oil -- one of the largest oil producers in the world. We cut off Russian oil into the United States, and our partners in Europe did the same, knowing that we would see higher gas prices.

We could have turned a blind eye to Putin's murderous ways, and the price of gas wouldn't have spiked the way it has. I believe that would have been wrong. I believed it then. I believed then and I believe now the free world had no choice. America could not stand by, and the West could not have stood by, although some suggested it at the time, and just watch Putin's tanks roll into Ukraine and seize a sovereign country.

If we did stand by, Putin wouldn't have stopped. Putin would have kept going, and we'd face an even steeper price. And it wasn't just me. The American people understood. The American people rose to the moment. The American people did what they always have done, defend freedom around the world.

They chose to stand with the people of Ukraine. We had near unanimous support in the Congress, Democrats, Republicans, and independents, for supporting Ukraine, knowing full well the cost.

So, for all those Republicans in Congress criticizing me today for high gas prices in America, are you now saying we were wrong to support Ukraine? Are you saying we were wrong to stand up to Putin? Are you saying that we would rather have lower gas prices in America and Putin's iron fist in Europe?

I don't believe that. Look, I get the easy politics of the attack. I get that. But the

simple truth is, gas prices are up almost $2 a gallon because of Vladimir Putin's ruthless attack on Ukraine, and we wouldn't let him get away with it. We're doing everything we can to reduce this pain at the pump now. And if those experiences have shown us anything, it's that we need to grow and harness more energy here at home.

Let's lower the price of electric vehicles, so we never have to pay at the pump in the first place. Major auto companies are preparing for 50 percent of future sales to be electric vehicles by 2030, 100 percent by 2035.


We're already building secure supply chains to build these electric vehicles here in America, and we're investing almost $100 billion in public transit and rail, for all the studies show that it will take millions of cars off the road and significantly reduce pollution if there's a serious transportation system available.

Let's keep accelerating our deployment of homegrown resources, sources of energy like solar and wind and nuclear and hydrogen and carbon capture storage, and keep developing the battery technologies, so we can store that power we need when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow.

Folks, let's make sure we're never again forced to pay the price of a menacing dictator halfway around the world. We can deal with this immediate crisis of high gas prices and still seize the clean energy future. We're Americans. We can do both. We have the most qualified people in the world.

Let me close with this. Even as we lead the world in defending democracy and standing up to a brutal autocrat, there are actions we can take to help American families now. We have taken them. We are taking them, the federal gas tax holiday, state gas tax holiday, bringing back refineries, putting them back online.

We just have to keep going. I promise you I'm doing everything possible, everything possible to bring the price of energy down, gas prices down. And I want to make sure we all work on this together.

May God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. Thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: President Biden there from the White House proposing a three-month suspension of the federal gas tax, about 18.3 cents per gallon.

Let's bring in now CNN's Kaitlan Collins. Also with, CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Dean, Patrick De Haan, head a petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, business journalist Marc Stewart, and CNN's Matt Egan still with us.

Let's start on Capitol Hill, because to get this to the American people, it's got to get through Congress. We heard today from the Democratic majority leader in the House that he and the speaker have reservations about this. What is the likelihood that it's going to pass?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it looks like it's going to hit a major roadblock when it gets here both to the Senate and the House.

Victor and Alisyn, you talked about Speaker Pelosi and House Leader Steny Hoyer really having reservations about this. They said they will look at it. Pelosi in the past has said that she's not optimistic that any of these savings would actually be passed onto the consumer.

And then, when you come over to the Senate side, as we have talked about many times, you're going to need all 50 Democrats, plus 10 Republicans to get that through. That is not happening. The Republicans are adamantly opposed to this. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell releasing a statement today really slamming this idea, really calling it a gimmick of sorts.

Then they could try to pass it with just Democrats only using that procedural process. But, again, we have heard some hesitation from Senate Democrats as well, chiefly among them, Senator Joe Manchin, who says he's a bit skeptical about this as well, if it would actually do what the Biden administration and what the president hopes it will do.

So, Victor and Alisyn, things look pretty dire for it over here. And, remember, it's going to have to pass through both chambers, and it just does not look promising right now.


Marc, aside from the politics, the substance of it, the suspending the federal gas tax and the calling on states to suspend their gas tax, and then the calling on the industry to refine more oil, would that make a dent?

MARC STEWART, BUSINESS JOURNALIST: Well, big picture, think of it this way.

A gas tax holiday is almost like a staycation. You can't truly get away from reality. And all of those factors you mentioned are a lot of reality. For example, if President Biden feels that oil companies, gas companies, energy providers should drill more, should refine more, well, it's a real economic investment on their part, at a time when he is calling for more green energy, more of a transition to solar and to wind.

If I'm an energy company, despite this moral imperative that many in the public feels should take place at this time, it would be the right thing to do, it's a really lofty investment when I'm not sure how much I'm going to get back in return.

BLACKWELL: Patrick, to you.

Let's say this gets through all the hurdles that Jessica just outlined in Congress. How soon after signature would those savings get to people at the pump?

PATRICK DE HAAN, GASBUDDY: Well, theoretically, it could start very quickly, depending on how the legislation is written.

Will the White House give stations credit for fuel they bought that was already taxed? That's the biggest question. If it's retroactive to fuel they already bought, then the relief could be much quicker. But if it's not, stations are going to want to sell through that taxed inventory before starting to lower prices.

So it could theoretically be almost immediate, or it could take several days if stations have to sell through that taxed inventory.


CAMEROTA: Kaitlan, it sounded like the president is tired of shouldering all the blame for gas prices.

I mean, he basically was saying -- he keeps reminding Americans of what the price was before Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. And then he's also saying, and Congress needs to do their part. I'm doing my part right now. Now it's up to Congress.

COLLINS: Well, he is calling on Congress to do it, because, technically, they have to do it. All he can do is call for this federal gas tax holiday to happen.

But that is really what happens when your presidency -- it's the price of the presidency, is that you often get the political blame for things like high gas prices, even though, as we have said until we're blue in the face, there's only so many options that he has to physically himself bring these prices down.

You heard the president at the end say he was doing everything he can. He talked about that strategic release that he did, but that also brought prices down about 10 cents, I believe, before they went back up.

And so it's been a struggle for this White House, because they know, every day, this is their number one domestic issue that they are battling, and that they are trying to bring down before the midterm elections. And so you saw the president there not only going after Republicans, saying he knows that it's an easy criticism to blame the president for high gas prices, but also something that he has been doing in recent days, which is ramping up that criticism of companies, because you saw him saying he calls on companies, if this actually gets passed by Congress, to pass on these savings to consumers.

But there is no guarantee that the companies are going to do that. And that's a concern that Pelosi has had. That's a concern that economists have about this potentially backfiring if they actually went forward with it. And he appealed to those companies, saying that the nation is in a time of war, that this is a time of peril, given, of course, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and what's happening there, and basically making the argument that, yes, there are going to be higher prices, but he believes it's worth it to defend democracy, as the United States is helping Ukraine with this Russian invasion and fending themselves off against these forces.

Whether or not that's an argument that is effective with voters remains to be seen, because, even if he does get this passed, I want to note the timing here. It would be up in September. That's two months before the midterm elections.


Matt, let's talk about -- the president there invoked Russia's invasion of Ukraine, talking about gas prices. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell was on the Hill today. And he detailed generally what the invasion is and is not responsible for as it relates to inflation.

EGAN: That's right.

Powell talked about how the war in Ukraine has made inflation worse, but he was specifically asked about whether or not we still had an inflation problem before this war began. Let's play that sound.


SEN. BILL HAGERTY (R-TN): Given how inflation has escalated over the past 18 months, would you say that the word Ukraine is the primary driver of inflation in America?

JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: No, inflation was high before -- certainly before the war in Ukraine broke out.


EGAN: And that's obviously right. I mean, consumer prices went up by 7.5 percent year over year in January, before the invasion began. And that was the fastest pace since February of 1982.

It's gotten worse since then, because we have seen prices for gasoline, natural gas go up. We have seen food prices go up. And so inflation was a big problem. It's gotten even bigger. But, really, the White House is searching for solutions here.

But some of what we just heard, right, one, not likely to get through Congress, two, if it gets through Congress, it's going to have a minimal impact on your wallet, right? What did we say, $2.70 every time you fill up your tank, not a big mover. And then also it could backfire by making demand worse. It's not going to address supply. It doesn't help the revenue situation. There's a lot of drawbacks there.

BLACKWELL: All right.

CAMEROTA: OK, on that note.


BLACKWELL: Thanks, Matt.

CAMEROTA: Yes, thanks, Matt.

Kaitlan, Jessica, Matt, Patrick De Haan and Marc Stewart, thank you all very much.

BLACKWELL: The January 6 Committee has never-before-seen footage that shows Ivanka Trump giving a contradictory view on her father's baseless claims of election fraud than the one she presented to lawmakers in closed-door depositions.

CAMEROTA: And the committee is now calling on Trump's former White House lawyer to testify.

We will discuss how crucial his appearance on Capitol Hill would be.



CAMEROTA: The January 6 Committee is getting brand-new evidence that they say could change their hearing schedule.

The committee tells CNN they need time to review this new information, which includes documentary footage from a British filmmaker.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Katelyn Polantz joins us now.

So, the next hearing is set for tomorrow. That's going to happen. But then what's next?


This hearing tomorrow afternoon is a sure thing, but then there will be a break. My colleagues on Capitol Hill now are learning that the next round of hearings will not be until next month in July. So, one of the reasons that this is going to be so fluid is that the committee is continuing to receive additional evidence.

And they want to incorporate that into their presentations going forward. So, twice now, they have called for more people to come forward and speak to them, including the former White House counsel Pat Cipollone. And they're asking those people to share more about what they know with the American public.

So we do believe the committee is continuing to investigate, continuing to get tips and continuing to even interview people at this time.

But you mentioned this documentary, this documentary footage. It's by a documentarian named Alex Holder. The committee wants to go through that footage from Holder that it has obtained recently, and believes that that footage shot of Donald Trump and his family at the end of the administration is important.

And important is the word that the committee chairman, Bennie Thompson, was using to describe it today. So, we do know that that is going to be incorporated.

Now, the committee has already sketched out some of what it wants to cover in its future hearings.