Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the actions Senate Democrats are taking to lower gas prices, including confirming Alvaro Bedoya to the FTC. Senator Schumer announced he intends to put legislation to ease the pain of gas prices on the floor of the Senate. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Earlier this morning, I joined with Senator Cantwell, Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Pallone to detail some of the ways Democrats are helping Americans ease the pain they’re feeling at the pump. We are focused like a laser on developing and passing legislation to lower costs and improve Americans’ daily lives.
Nowhere else are Americans feeling the hurt as viscerally and repeatedly as they are when they fill up their tank at the gas station. We are thus working on legislation to fight bad actors who may be using COVID and Ukraine to jack up prices on consumers to pad their profits.
And I intend to put that legislation on the floor.
Oil is basically an oligopoly. A few small companies dominate. And that means supply and demand doesn't work. That means, for instance, that the 25 biggest energy giants in America reported a breathtaking $205 billion in profits in 2021. If there was real competition, they'd fight to get the price lower to get some market share, but with very little competition, they just keep the price up and the consumer is strangled. One executive even bragged to shareholders about the benefits of “capturing value from high prices.”
And what are the oil companies doing with all this cash? They’re helping their CEOs and their biggest, wealthiest shareholders.
The amount of buybacks is skyrocketing. Buybacks do no good. They don't help the worker. They don't help the consumer. They don't even produce more oil. For those who believe that's the way to go. They simply line the pockets of the CEOs and the biggest shareholders and then they can go back and say I got the stock price up. But not the way you're supposed to in capitalism by making your company sell more, be more productive, but rather by this horrible buyback which has become endemic in corporate America and is very harmful to America. So it's high time we need somebody to look under the hood, see what the problem is, and give them the tools to fix it. That somebody is the F.T.C.
It is high time for the F.T.C. to roll up their sleeves and drill down on what’s going on at the big oil companies. Very soon the Senate will confirm Alvaro Bedoya and return the F.T.C. to full strength.
But Congress needs to do more to beef up the F.T.C.’s ability to crack down on potential gas price manipulation and price gouging.
So we will work on legislation to that end, among other proposals to lower gas prices. Once again, as we reach the end of this week, let me say I intend to put legislation that eases the pain of gas prices on the floor for a vote when it is ready.