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Commerce secretary says the ‘brutal reality’ is that there ‘isn’t very much more to be done’ on gas prices

<i>Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>US Commerce Secretary
AFP via Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
US Commerce Secretary

By Betsy Klein, CNN

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo conceded Tuesday that there is not much more the White House can do to tackle record high gas prices for Americans, casting blame on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Unfortunately, that is the brutal reality,” Raimondo said in response to CNN’s Kate Bolduan saying there’s not much action left that President Joe Biden can take.

She continued, “You know, this is, in large part, caused by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s aggression. You know, since Putin move troops to the border of Ukraine, gas prices have gone up over $1.40 a gallon, and the President is asking for Congress and others for potential ideas. But as you say, the reality is that there isn’t very much more to be done.”

The bleak assessment from the Commerce secretary comes as prices have been spiking for weeks, causing pain at the pump for Americans heading into the summer and political headaches for the Biden administration amid already-high inflation.

The national average price for regular gasoline jumped another five cents on Tuesday to a fresh record of $4.92 a gallon, according to AAA. That’s up by 30 cents over the past week and 62 cents in the past month.

Raimondo on Tuesday pointed to the possibility of a gas tax holiday, which would require congressional action. And she outlined the record-setting steps Biden has already taken to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserves, which has had a negligible effect on prices.

Prices won’t go down, she said, until the war in Ukraine is over.

“But again, especially what we need to do is get Putin to end this war. And that is also something that we are working as hard as we can to do. … The President is thinking about this every day and pushing his team and Congress to come up with any idea possible because we’re deeply aware of how this is hurting American families,” Raimondo said.

Pressed on whether she was comfortable with Biden meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman next month to help potentially alleviate gas prices, Raimondo suggested Biden is “going to use every arrow in his quiver in order to bring down gas prices for Americans.”

She added that she has “full trust” in Biden’s judgment on such a meeting.

She also reiterated that the administration is looking into lifting some Trump-era tariffs on China, but declined to get into specifics.

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