Heading into the July Fourth weekend, a policy group supporting House Democrats is launching $1.7 million in new ads calling on the Senate to take up House-passed legislation designed to combat potential gas price gouging.
In a week where much of the political world is focused on the effect of last week’s Supreme Court decision overturning abortion rights, the new TV campaign shows Democrats are well aware of the potential for inflation, and high gas prices in particular, to dominate public concerns.
“He voted to put an immediate stop to the price gouging,” says one of the ads produced by House Majority Forward, highlighting Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa. The ad claims the bill would “quickly lower the cost of gas for you, and punish the price gougers taking advantage of Americans.”
House Majority Forward is a policy nonprofit that’s associated with the super PAC House Majority PAC. It will be running similar spots in eight other House districts of varying competitiveness, highlighting the support of individual members for the bill that would give the Federal Trade Commission greater powers to investigate and address price gouging in both the retail and wholesale markets for consumer fuel.
“No more price gouging. No more record profits at our expense,” says the ad featuring Rep. Elaine Luria, a Virginia Democrat.
Both Cartwright and Luria occupy House seats rated as Toss-ups by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. The other members in Toss-up seats featured in the ad campaign are Reps. Cindy Axne of Iowa, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Susan Wild of Pennsylvania.
The House Majority Forward ads, shared first with CQ Roll Call, will also be running in the districts of Reps. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. of Georgia, Terri A. Sewell of Alabama, Teresa Leger Fernandez of New Mexico and Lauren Underwood of Illinois.
“Last month, 217 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to protect Americans and end exploitation at the gas pump by passing the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act,” House Majority Forward executive director Abby Curran Horrell said in a statement. “The U.S. House once again delivered on their promise to lower costs for American families — and now it’s the U.S. Senate’s turn to do the same so that this common sense legislation can be signed into law.”
Since May 1, Democratic campaigns and outside groups have spent at least a combined $1.4 million on broadcast television ads talking about high gas prices or lowering them, according to data collected by AdImpact. Many of the ads feature candidates talking about bringing down the costs of things like gas, prescription drugs or food. Even more criticize candidates who accept donations from gas or fossil fuel industries.
The Senate left for the July Fourth recess without taking up the gouging measure. A separate bill that would direct the Federal Trade Commission to be on the lookout for potential manipulation in oil and gasoline markets deadlocked 14-14 in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee last month, meaning it is not expected to have the support to advance.
President Joe Biden on June 22 urged Congress to temporarily suspend the federal gas tax, but the plan got a cool reaction in Congress. The administration’s plan for a three-month summer holiday would have had the tax going back up in October, just before the midterm elections.
A Quinnipiac University poll released last week found that 63 percent of those surveyed said the prices of gas and consumer goods was their biggest economic worry, with 40 percent saying they were changing summer travel plans as a result of the cost of gasoline.
Mary Ellen McIntire and Benjamin J. Hulac contributed to this report.