8NEWS, JACKIE DEFUSCO
With the holiday travel season in full swing, President Joe Biden is tapping into the country’s emergency oil reserves in hopes of bringing down gas prices.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat from Virginia’s Seventh Congressional District, is among eight members of the House of Representatives who pushed President Biden to take that step in a letter earlier this week.
Now, Spanberger is calling on President Biden to go further to rein in rising costs at the pump and at the grocery store.
After Democrats suffered big losses in Virginia’s elections earlier this month, polls suggest increasing gas prices are becoming a big political problem for Biden and potentially for members of Congress in competitive districts like Spanberger.
Spanberger, who already has a lengthy list of Republicans vying to run against her in next year’s midterms, emphasized in an interview on Tuesday that this is not a partisan issue.
“I’m proud to be among the legislators on Capitol Hill sounding the alarm bells about how serious this is,” Spanberger furthered.
A report from the U.S. Department of Labor released last week said fuel prices have soared 12.3 percent over the last month. That’s up 59.1 percent from the previous year.
Spanberger said taking advantage of the country’s strategic oil stash was a critical step that Biden arguably could’ve taken sooner.
“I think one could’ve made the argument that doing it within the past couple of months—month or so—could’ve been a valuable step but, at this point, I’m glad it’s done,” Spanberger said. “It’s an incredibly important step forward. That’s why I called on him to do it yesterday so I’m glad that he has been responsive.”
Moving forward, Spanberger is urging Biden to appoint a “Supply Chain Czar” to coordinate the federal response to supply chain disruptions, staff shortages and pent-up demand during the coronavirus pandemic contributing to rising prices.
“While I am encouraged that the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes provisions to ease bottlenecks at ports, bolster our trucking workforce, and generally invest in infrastructure essential to the movement of goods domestically, my constituents need immediate action to ease daily price shocks,” Spanberger wrote in a separate letter to Biden.
Meanwhile, critics are blaming big spending by Democrats for inflation and arguing Biden’s targeting of U.S-based pipelines is behind high gas prices.
Spanberger didn’t directly agree with or refute those accusations when asked about them on Tuesday.
“Experts seem to agree that there’s no single solitary cause of the inflation we’re experiencing in the grocery stores or the rising cost of fuel, which is part is why it’s so important we have a supply chain czar really focus on all of these challenges in concert,” Spanberger said. “I’ll defer to the experts who spend their days researching the cause and effects.”