The US House of Representatives voted Thursday (May 19) to pass a bill to combat price gouging at the pump.
Every House Republican and four House Democrats voted against the bill that puts the blame for record-high gas prices on oil companies and not the ever-shifting market overall. The bill's supporters argued that oil companies' record profits are evidence of a price-gouging issue at hand.
The bill's passage comes as Americans across the country see record-high prices at the pump, with the national average creeping closer to $5 per gallon. A prediction released this week by JP Morgan estimates we could see a nationwide average of $6 per gallon by the end of the year.
"What's infuriating is that this is happening at the same time that gas and oil companies are raking in record profits and then putting those dollars into buying stock buybacks," Rep. Kim Schrier, the bill's sponsor, said in a speech from the floor on Thursday (May 19).
To combat higher prices, the bill would specifically ban selling fuel at "excessive" rates during an emergency. The bill currently doesn't have a threshold for price points, according to The Hill. The bill also gives the Federal Trade Commission the authority to pursue legal action against price gouging, if found.
Two amendments passed before the final vote which require the FTC to investigate if price gouging is taking place by various controllable means –– like reducing oil production on purpose. The other would establish a department in the FTC that specifically monitors the fuel market.