WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) questioned U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on how the Biden administration plans to address the record-high gas prices and inflation impacting Americans across the country.
Yellen testified at today’s Senate Committee on Finance hearing on the president’s FY 2023 budget request.
Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks.
On High Gas Prices Across the Country:
“Things have gotten worse since the last time you testified before this Committee.
“Inflation is at a 40-year high. It is impacting Americans with higher prices across the board.
“When President Biden took office, the price of a gallon of gas was $2.38. Now it is almost $5.
“This past Memorial Day was a very expensive for people to travel.
“In my home state of Wyoming in rural areas, people who volunteer to drive for ‘Meals on Wheels’ to deliver meals to shut-ins, have had to stop volunteering.
“Not because they don’t have the time or the commitment or the open heart, they don’t have the money for the gas.
“That is the number one issue affecting the American people.
“A few weeks ago, we had the Interior Secretary testifying before the Energy Committee. I asked her if she thought that gas prices were too high.
“She did not think it was an easy question. She couldn’t come up with an answer. Of course they are too high. But I ask you, do you think gas prices too high?
Secretary Yellen: “Absolutely.”
“Thank you. The people of Wyoming, the vast majority of Americans, agree with you on that point. The question is what are we going to do about it.
“Well in your Fiscal Year 2023 Budget and Revenue proposals, as part of the proposed tax hikes, you specifically target U.S. energy production with tax hikes.
“And on top of your tax hikes, the administration is doing everything it can to end oil and natural gas exploration and production on federal lands.
“Just last week, the administration announced a sue-and-settle agreement with environmental extremists, which calls into question millions of acres of oil and natural gas leases in the West, including 2,000 leases in my home state of Wyoming.
“Some of these leases are from 2015 all the way up to the end of the last administration.
“The president had his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal talked about gas prices and said, ‘we need to take every practical step to make things more affordable…’
“But it seems to me these tax hikes and other decisions like this are not going to help and are actually going to make matters worse.
“Making it more expensive to produce American energy would simply lead to higher prices for consumers.
“And once that energy is produced, it needs to be transported to refineries and eventually gas stations.
“Well, pipelines are an important piece of the transportation, but on CNBC last week you specifically suggested pipelines don’t matter.
“On one hand both you and the president say gas prices are too high – to which I agree – but on the other you are targeting American energy with taxes, and that is going to result in higher costs for Americans.
“Since you agree the prices are too high, can you please explain the inconsistencies with the policies of the Department of Treasury and the administration?”
“I would point out that in addition to the leases, you actually need the permission to drill and this administration has blocked all of that.
“And this sue-and-settle agreement by the administration last week is taking many of those acres that you just described, and freezing those so they cannot be used.
“And with $5 gas, what we see today, is the president calling on using the Defense Production Act, not to go after this, but to build solar panels. And that seems to me the wrong place to be using that act.”
On Getting Inflation Wrong:
“I would just point out, finally, that yesterday's USA Today, front-page story, picture Madam Secretary of you and the President of the United States, yesterday's USA Today, headline: Small risk of inflation swelled to a global threat. Underneath: White House waved off economist warnings.
“And they quote you from ABC March of 2021. Is there a risk of inflation? You responded: ‘I think there's a small risk’- this is with regard to signing the American Rescue Plan - you say ‘And I think it's manageable.’
“Given that, it makes me wonder why Americans should put any confidence in your pronouncements and decisions and recommendations today.”