Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., co-sponsored a bill to fight gas price gouging. Photo courtesy of Dr. Kim Schrier/Facebook
May 19 (UPI) -- The U.S. House on Thursday passed a bill to prevent gasoline price gouging bill without a single Republican vote in favor. The vote was 217-207.
The bill sponsored by Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Wash., and Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., would make it illegal to sell gas at an excessive price during an energy emergency.
"At a time when people in my district and across the country are feeling the pain of high prices at the gas pump, Congress needs to be doing all we can to bring down costs," Schrier said in a statement.
Schrier said the FTC needs to have the power to investigate and crack down when there's evidence of real gouging.
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise wrote to Republican members that the bill was an "attempt by the Majority to distract and shift blame" for high gas prices. Scalise wrote that there was no evidence of gas price gouging.
The Consumer Price Gouging Prevention Act of 2022 would give the president the power to issue an emergency declaration that would make it unlawful to hike gasoline and home energy prices "in an excessive or exploitative manner."
It would also give the FTC more tools to crack down on price gouging, allowing the FTC to prioritize enforcement action on big oil and gas companies.
The Thursday afternoon national average gas price was $4.58 cents per gallon for regular, according to AAA. The price for diesel was $5.57 per gallon.
Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Texas, was one of four Democrats who voted against the bill.
"The Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act would not fix high gasoline prices at the pump, and has the potential to exacerbate the supply shortage our country is facing, leading to even worse outcomes," Fletcher said in a statement. "For these reasons, I voted no on this legislation today."
Market analysts have said Russia's Ukraine invasion and the pandemic recovery are the primary drivers of higher gas prices.
President Biden ordered the release of a million barrels of oil a day from the strategic reserve in an effort to lower gas prices at the pump.