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TRANSCRIPT: Majority Leader Schumer Remarks At Press Conference On New Democratic Legislative Efforts To Lower Gas Prices For American Families

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke at a press conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Commerce Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) on new legislative efforts to lower gas prices for American families. Below is a transcript of Senator Schumer’s remarks:

Democrats are focused like a laser on developing and passing legislation to lower costs and improve Americans’ daily lives. It is our top priority. And higher gas prices is the place where Americans feel it the most.

We are pushing for legislation to lower the cost of putting food on the table, keep the cost of insulin affordable, help relieve the supply chain crisis, increase competition through antitrust enforcement; all areas where Congress can take action to help the American people reduce prices.

But passing legislation to fight higher gas prices at the pump is at the very top of our list.

The American people didn’t send us here to just point fingers of blame at each other – that seems to be what our colleagues on the other side of the aisle do. They don’t have any constructive suggestions. They want us to get something done.

So today we’re outlining just some of the ways Democrats, House and Senate coming together, can address the pain families are feeling at the pump. 

Americans know that Russia’s unprovoked, vicious, nasty, bitter invasion of Ukraine has contributed to higher prices at the pump.

They know that COVID-related supply issues have caused shortages at a time when demand has skyrocketed. 

These conditions have put consumers over a barrel and made them vulnerable to market manipulation and price gouging.

Big Oil companies are using both these issues – price gouging and market manipulation – to cash in. As I mentioned before, and as Nancy has said, I’ve been talking about this on the floor, oil companies last year made record profits on these tragedies, almost like vultures. We have the Ukraine tragedy. We have the COVID tragedy, and do they try to make things better? No. They come in and make record profits. And what are they doing with those profits?  This is what outrages me. Stock buybacks that don’t improve a thing – that don’t do anything positive. It makes the CEOs feel very good because they’ve raised the stock price without doing anything to change how productive the company is by their terms, by our terms, or by any other terms.

That money that went into stock buybacks should be going to reduce prices. And if we had a real free market economy, not an oligopoly, not a place where manipulation and gouging could be the norm, we’d find that. But that’s why we need some real, tough legislation. That’s why we need some real oversight.

The price is going up and up and up. And what are the Big Oil companies doing?

They're not improving production to lower costs. They’re not paying their employees more. They’re not reducing prices to help our country.

Instead, they’re helping their CEOs and their biggest wealthy shareholders. It's outrageous.

It is time for the F.T.C. to roll up its sleeves and drill down on what’s going on at the Big Oil companies.

And very soon the Senate will confirm Alvaro Bedoya and return the F.T.C. to full strength. And we know from her testimony and her discussions with us that Chairman Kahn wants to focus on this issue. We want to give her more tools, in addition to the tools she has to do it.

Congress must do more to beef up the F.T.C.’s ability to crack down on potential gas price manipulation and price gouging.

Senate Commerce Committee Chair Cantwell and Energy and Commerce Chair Pallone are leading the charge to come up with legislation to fight against the bad actors who may be using COVID and Ukraine to jack up prices on consumers and pad their profits.

And I plan to put that legislation for a vote on the floor of the Senate.

Democrats are taking action to help Americans.

Our Republican colleagues only lift a finger, point blame, try to seek political advantage but get nothing done.

But when the bills hit the floor Republicans will face a dilemma: Which side are they on? Of the consumer and lowering gas prices? Or on the side of Big Oil? We’ll soon find out.

Democrats are committed to working on this, and we’re going to continue working with our House colleagues to bring legislation that can bring prices down across the board.