Senate Republicans are pretending gas prices didn't start rising under Trump

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Their false attempts to blame President Joe Biden have been widely debunked.

Senate Republicans are falsely blaming rising gas prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine on President Joe Biden. But while they are quick to point out that the current trend toward higher prices began before this crisis, they are silent on the fact that it started under former President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, Biden announced that the United States would halt all Russian oil imports as part of a growing list of sanctions against Vladimir Putin's regime. According to AAA, the national average gasoline price rose to more than $4.31 per gallon on Thursday — about $0.87 more than early February's rate.

Biden acknowledged that the Ukraine situation and the resulting diminished supply would mean higher fossil fuel prices in the short term. "They're going to go up," he told reporters on Tuesday. "Can't do much right now. Russia is responsible."

Senate Republicans applauded Biden's embargo, but then scolded him for the resulting higher gas prices. Several pointed out that prices had been increasing in the previous months as well, asserting that Biden was responsible.

"This is a flat-out lie," Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said about Biden's comment. "Gas prices have increased 48% under Biden—BEFORE RUSSIA INVADED UKRAINE. Biden did that."

"Rising gas prices far predate our ban on Russian oil," tweeted Idaho Sen. Jim Risch. "This is a direct consequence of the administration's decision to dismantle our country's existing energy infrastructure and forgo American energy independence."

"The price of gas increased by 75% since Biden became president before Biden blocked oil imports from Russia," said Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton.

Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville pointed out that gas prices were lower before Trump lost the 2020 election.

"Every time @POTUS makes a decision it's wrong. Then, he blames someone else for the results of that decision. Nov 2020 gas: $2.13 per gallon," he tweeted. "Nov 2021 gas: $3.42 per gallon. Mar 2022 gas: $4.25 per gallon."

Tuberville's numbers are slightly different from the monthly national retail gasoline price averages tracked by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, but close.

Neither he nor his colleagues acknowledged that the prices actually began to increase months before Biden's landslide November 2020 presidential election victory against Trump.

A gallon of gas cost, on average, $1.938 in April 2020, when the economy was largely shut down due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With people staying at home, demand was quite low.

As the economy began to rebound, gasoline prices began to do the same. By the time Trump left the White House in January 2021, they were already back up to $2.42 per gallon. The gradual growth in demand and price continued as the economy blossomed under Biden.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and his GOP colleagues blamed the entire increase on the president's environmental policies.

"A ban on Russian oil is exactly what is needed—we should have never been funding Putin's war! But the current price spikes in gas didn't happen overnight. President Biden's obstruction of U.S. oil & gas production drove up prices over the last year," he tweeted.

But fact-checkers have widely debunked their assertions that Biden's decisions to cancel the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline and pause new drilling projects on public lands were any significant factor in current prices.

The New York Times published a fact check on Wednesday titled "Republicans Wrongly Blame Biden for Rising Gas Prices," noting that the canceled Canadian tar sands oil pipeline project and the lack of new public drilling leases had had a minimal impact on prices.

"COVID changed the game, not President Biden," GasBuddy petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan told the paper. "U.S. oil production fell in the last eight months of President Trump's tenure. Is that his fault? No."

Last year, Biden asked Congress to pass $555 billion in clean energy and climate change infrastructure investments as part of his Build Back Better agenda.

The bill passed the House but stalled in the Senate, with every single Republican opposing it. Had it become law, the move away from fossil fuel would likely already have begun by now.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.