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The U.S. president would have the authority to declare an emergency that would make the sale of gasoline at “excessive” prices illegal under legislation House Democrats plan to bring to the floor next week.
The effort, announced May 12 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, comes as Democrats seek to blame record high gasoline prices on the oil industry amid fears that angry voters could punish Democrats in the midterm elections in November.
“Price gouging needs to be stopped,” Pelosi said at a press conference. “This is a major exploitation of the consumer.”
The legislation being brought for a vote, the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, also would give the Federal Trade Commission the power to issue penalties for price gouging, according to a summary of the legislation. The measure would prioritize penalizing larger companies, while protecting independently owned gas stations.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has also said he plans to bring to the floor legislation beefing up the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to go after gasoline price manipulation. That effort is unlikely to draw the Republican support necessary to pass in the evenly divided Senate.
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