Stimulus Checks for 2022 Pushed by Lawmakers To Offset Rising Gas Prices

Amid sky-high gas prices, some lawmakers are pushing proposals for the federal government to help ease the financial burden on Americans by sending out stimulus checks or rebates.

The steepest rise in inflation in decades was already hitting Americans hard when gas prices soared to record highs earlier this month, fueled largely by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

According to AAA, the national average price of regular unleaded was $4.237 a gallon on Wednesday.

Several lawmakers have introduced measures that seek to help ease the strain for Americans.

Gas Rebate Act

A bill proposed by Reps. Mike Thompson of California, John Larson of Connecticut and Lauren Underwood of Illinois would send Americans an energy rebate of $100, as well as another $100 for each dependent, for any month where the national average gas prices exceed $4 per gallon.

The proposal would work in a similar way to the stimulus checks the federal government sent out in 2020 and 2021. Single filers earning less than $75,000 a year would receive the full rebate, while the checks would be phased out for those earning up to $80,000.

A sign displays current fuel prices
A sign displays current fuel prices at a gas station in Arlington, Virginia, on March 16, 2022. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Joint filers who earn less than $150,000 would qualify, but the check would be phased out at $160,000.

"Americans are feeling the impact at the pump of Vladimir Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine, and right now we must work together on commonsense policy solutions to ease the financial burden that my constituents are feeling," Thompson, a Democrat, said in a statement.

"The Putin Price Hike is putting strain on our economy, and I am proud to be working with Reps. Larson and Underwood to introduce this legislation to provide middle-class Americans with monthly payments to ease the financial burden of this global crises."

Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax

A proposal from Rep. Ro Khanna of California and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island would tax large oil and gas companies and use the revenue to send consumers a quarterly rebate.

The Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax would charge a per-barrel tax "equal to 50 percent of the difference between the current price of a barrel of oil and the pre-pandemic average price per barrel between 2015 and 2019," according to a press release from the lawmakers.

If the per barrel price sits at $120, the tax would raise about $45 billion a year, the lawmakers said.

Single filers would receive about $240 each year, while joint filers would receive roughly $360 each year, they calculated. The payment would phase out for single filers who earn more than $75,000 in annual income and joint filers who earn more than $150,000.

"This is a bill to reduce gas prices and hold Big Oil accountable. As Russia's invasion of Ukraine sends gas prices soaring, fossil fuel companies are raking in record profits," Khanna said in a statement.

"These companies have made billions and used the profits to enrich their own shareholders while average Americans are hurting at the pump."

Stop Gas Price Gouging Tax and Rebate Act

A proposal from Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon would create a tax rebate based on oil company profits.

In a press release, DeFazio pointed to a report that found the largest oil and gas companies made a record $205 billion in profits in 2021.

Under his proposal, companies would pay a "one-time, 50 percent windfall profit tax" on any adjusted taxable income (ATI) in 2022 that exceeds 110 percent of their average ATI during pre-pandemic levels between 2015 and 2019.

The revenue raised would be returned to consumers as a monthly, advanced and refundable tax credit phased out by income.

The eligibility criteria would be the same as the criteria for stimulus checks sent out under the American Rescue Plan.

"After price-gouging Americans in 2021 to make record profits, Big Oil is now reaping the benefits of Putin's price hike," DeFazio said in a statement.

"As we face COVID-related supply chain bottlenecks and uncertainty created by Vladimir Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, I repeat to Big Oil what President Biden said just a week ago—it's no time for profiteering or price-gouging."