Worried Democrats set to blame oil companies for high gas prices

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In today’s edition: Alabama is once again the battleground over black suffrage… Michigan Democrats are pushing to make their state the top presidential nominating contest in 2024… Connie Conway (R) runoff advance to replace old Devin Nunes NATO ministers will meet in Brussels today, and the US and EU to toughen sanctions…but first…

A tradition like no other… Democrats and oil companies clash over the price of gasoline

Lawmakers fed up with high gas prices will have a chance to vent their frustrations this morning as the CEOs of six major oil companies take to the Hill.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing is the latest effort by Democratic lawmakers and the Biden administration to demonstrate to voters that they are working to lower prices at the pumps as the party fears that inflation could contribute to heavy losses in the midterm elections. .

President Biden placed much of the blame on the Russian president Vladimir Poutinebut Democrats are also increasingly attacking the oil and gas industry.

Progressives introduced a bill last month to tax the profits of oil and gas companies and send the money to consumers as a refund. Democrats have criticized their stock buybacks. Biden urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the industry’s “anti-consumer” behavior.

And Democrats are increasingly talking about what they call “price pricing” from oil and gas companies.

Representative Mike Levin (D-California) told our colleagues Marianna Sotomayor and Tony Perry that he’s telling voters there are “three Ps” to blame for gas prices in his district soaring above $6 a gallon: the pandemic, Putin and price gouging.

The name of this morning’s hearing: “Ripped from the gas station.”

“We are here today to get answers from big oil companies on why they are ripping off the American people,” Representative Frank Pallone (DN.J.), the chairman of the committee, will say this morning, according to prepared remarks shared with the Early.

The industry’s message to legislators: It’s not our fault.

“I want to be absolutely clear” Michael Wirth, Chevronwill tell the committee this morning, according to his prepared testimony. “We don’t control the market price of crude oil or natural gas, or refined products like gasoline and diesel fuel, and we have no tolerance for price gouging.”

Blaming the oil industry for skyrocketing gas prices is an esteemed tradition in Washington.

“Republican presidents do it,” said Robert McNallyformer energy consultant at George W. Bushof the White House who now runs a consulting firm. “Democratic presidents do it. To my knowledge, there has never been any gouging found.

But Biden has been more aggressive than his predecessors, according to McNally.

“The president’s tweets and comments go beyond anything I can remember from any previous president,” he said.

The oil industry has complained that some Democrats begging them to increase production have chastised them in the past for exacerbating the climate crisis by drilling too much.

When four of the six leaders testifying today appeared before the House Oversight and Reform Committee in October, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) asked them why some of them weren’t going faster to slow down production.

“Fast forward to today, and now the question is, ‘Why don’t you produce oil and gas? “, Said Mike Sommerthe CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.

Khanna, who last month introduced the bill to tax windfall profits of big oil companies along with nine other House Democrats, said he supports increasing oil production in the near term but shifting long-term renewable energy.

In an interview, Khanna said it was fair to describe oil company behavior as price hikes – a term he recently researched on Wikipedia – even though it didn’t fit the legal definition of oil. expression.

“As I understand it, the price hike is a sudden increase in prices in a way that is not reasonable,” he said. “And here you have a 46% increase in gas this year. It is a sudden increase in price. So I would say it’s definitely a price increase.

Biden’s worries, meanwhile, are rooted in the fact that the price of gas has been slower to come down in recent weeks than the price of oil, according to a White House official.

“We continue to see pump prices go up as soon as oil prices rise, but then they take far too long to come down when oil prices fall,” the official wrote in an email to Early. “That’s why the President has called for the FTC’s investigation, and he will use every tool at his disposal to try to repair this dynamic.”

Some House Democrats in oil-producing states worry that rushing to blame the industry could hurt the party midterm.

When the former president donald trump and Republican candidates for Congress exceeded expectations in South Texas in 2020, Representative Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), which represents a Democratic-leaning district, asked its voters why so many voted Republican.

“The two things I heard were ‘defund the police’ and oil and gas jobs,” Cuellar said.

“With all due respect to my colleagues, I don’t think we need to isolate the oil and gas industry,” he added.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), which represents a Houston district teeming with oil and gas industry workers, said she thinks having executives testify on the Hill is worth the effort given the rising price of oil. essence, but that Democrats should not increase their rhetoric to the point that it alienates potential Democratic voters.

“Criticizing is right, but we need to make sure it doesn’t get so bad that it threatens and could impact some election results,” she said.

‘Let me vote in peace’: “Driving in the city center [Montgomery, Ala] on a misty, damp morning, Evan Milligan pointed to historical and personal landmarks,” our colleague Colby Itkowitz writing. “There used to be the black barber shop where Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. got a haircut. There was the corner of the street where Rosa Parks boarded a city bus and later refused to yield to a white passenger. There was the church where King organized a bus boycott after Parks was arrested.

  • “Milligan is a descendant of enslaved blacks, just six generations apart. Once freed, his ancestors moved from the rural Black Belt – so named for its rich topsoil – to the eastern neighborhoods of Montgomery. Decades later, they would become foot soldiers of the civil rights movement, embroiled in the nation’s most historic battles over segregation and voting rights in the Jim Crow South.
  • “Now Milligan, 40, is on the front lines of the latest fight against discrimination, lending his last name to what will be the Supreme Court’s landmark case on racial gerrymandering, centered on the Invisible District Line that divides black neighborhoods in eastern Montgomery.
  • “In Milligan v. Merrill – this is Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) – the highest court in the land will determine whether federal law requires states such as Alabama with large minority populations and a racially polarized vote to consider race in redistricting or whether they have free rein to press the minority voters in as few districts as possible — one, in Alabama’s case — giving white politicians dominance over all others.
  • “The decision could have far-reaching implications across a vast swath of the South where blacks and other minority populations are growing at a faster rate than whites, but power is disproportionately held by white politicians.

Michigan Democrats will push to be first in the 2024 presidential race

Game of thrones: “Michigan Democrats plan to ask the National Party to make their state the site of the first presidential nominating contest in 2024, challenging the election-year status of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and North Carolina. South,” people involved in the effort said. coworker Michael Scherer.

  • “Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said Tuesday that she spoke with stakeholders throughout the state, including the office of Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), about preparing for a bid later this spring, when the Committee on Democratic Rules and Regulations is expected to open the nomination process for the next order of nomination.
  • “Dingell said Michigan is perfectly situated to begin the nomination process.”
  • “First of all, we are purple. The issues we face reflect the diversity of what the country faces, from rural to urban areas, from manufacturing areas to agricultural areas,” Dingell told Scherer. “We are a mini-America.”

“The Michigan Democratic effort marks the first time that a new state has made a play of dethroning the early voting order that has governed presidential nominating contests for more than a decade.

Republican Connie Conway advances to second round to replace Devin Nunes

🗳️: “Republican Connie Conway advanced to a runoff in June in a special election to fill California’s 22nd congressional district, replacing Devin Nunesour colleague David Weigel reports. “Conway’s opponent has yet to be determined. Democrat Lourin Hubbard was in second place early Wednesday, but it was too early to call second place in the second round.

  • “The winner of the second round on June 7 will fill the remainder of Nunes’ term. Tuesday marked the last election under the district’s current lines; voters will choose candidates in newly drawn constituencies starting in June. »

👂 What we listen to:

  • Broken Doors: Episode 1: “That’s What You Get.” By The post office.

📚What we read:

The Misadventures of Capitol Fox

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