The US House of Representatives passed a bill that would outlaw gas price gouging during an energy emergency. The commonwealth’s lawmakers voted along party lines, with all Dems voting for and Republican reps voting against.
All nine of Pennsylvania’s Republican US House representatives voted against a bill aimed at combating “price gouging” on gasoline as prices at the pump hit record highs this week, averaging about $4.59 on Thursday.
The state’s GOP congressional lawmakers who voted against the bill included Brian Fitzpatrick, John Joyce, Fred Keller, Mike Kelly, Dan Meuser, Scott Perry, Guy Reschenthaler, Lloyd Smucker, and Glenn Thompson.
The bill passed the House by a 217 to 207 vote, with not a single Republican voting for it and four Democrats voting against it. All of the commonwealth’s House Democrats supported the legislation.
The Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act would outlaw the selling of fuel at an “excessive” price during an energy emergency, though it does not specify a price threshold.
The bill would also give the Federal Trade Commission the authority to investigate energy companies for alleged price gouging.
Two amendments were made to the bill prior to the final vote. One requires the FTC to investigate whether gas prices are being manipulated by reducing refinery capacity and other means. The other creates a new unit at the FTC that will monitor fuel markets.
The legislation is unlikely to pass the Senate, as it would need the support of 10 Republicans. Democrats blame the oil industry for the skyrocketing prices. Market analysts said the high prices are being driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the pandemic recovery.
House Energy and Commerce Chairman, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey) argued on Thursday that even if gouging isn’t behind the prices, there is no harm in voting to give the FTC the ability to pursue actual cases of wrongdoing.