Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP
U.S. President Joe Biden waves before his departure to Saudi Arabia from Ben Gurion airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel, on Friday.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden seemed to bow Friday to Sen. Joe Manchin’s demand for a slimmed-down economic package, telling Democrats to quickly push the measure through Congress so families could “sleep easier” and enjoy the health care savings it proposes.
Biden’s statement came hours after Manchin, the West Virginian who is one of Congress’ more conservative Democrats, said that if party leaders wanted to pass a measure before next month’s recess, it should be limited to provisions curbing prescription drug prices, extending subsidies for people buying health insurance and reducing the federal deficit.
“Families all over the nation will sleep easier if Congress takes this action,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House. “The Senate should move forward, pass it before the August recess, and get it to my desk so I can sign it.”
He added, “This will not only lower the cost of prescription drugs and health care for families, it will reduce the deficit and help fight inflation.”
Manchin, whose vote is a necessity for Democrats to succeed, had also said that if party leaders want to pursue a broader measure aimed at curbing climate change and raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, they should wait until later this summer. He argued that would allow time to see what happens to inflation and interest rates this month, a delay that would also push consideration of the legislation until the weeks just before the November elections and jeopardize its fate.
In his statement, Biden said action on climate and clean energy “remains more urgent than ever” but also acknowledged a willingness to accept, for now, delays in congressional action.
“If the Senate will not move to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen our domestic clean energy industry, I will take strong executive action to meet this moment,” he said. His moves would produce jobs, shield the country against fuel price hikes and protect the climate, he said, adding, “I will not back down: the opportunity to create jobs and build a clean energy future is too important to relent.”
Biden’s comments marked the latest retreat he and congressional Democratic leaders have made since initially pushing wider-ranging goals early last year that would have cost $3.5 trillion or more.
Those priorities would have also provided free pre-kindergarten, low-cost child care, paid family leave and more. But they ultimately fell victim to Democrats’ slender majorities in Congress and stark changes in the political and economic climate that have seen voters show deep concerns over this year’s soaring inflation, including record gasoline prices.
The president’s options for executive action or Environmental Protection Agency regulations could include rejecting permits for oil and gas drilling on federal lands and waters, tightening pollution allowed from coal-fired plants and restricting natural gas pipelines and other fossil fuel projects.
Environmental advocates want him to go further and declare a national climate emergency that would invoke authorities to boost clean energy such as wind and solar power.
If you’re open-minded about your vacation destination, consider driving through a region with below-average gas prices. On June 1, 10 states had average gas prices below $4.30 per gallon for regular grade gasoline, according to AAA data.
Those states, ranked from cheapest to most expensive, were:
9. South Carolina.
Given how many of those states border each other, it’d be fairly easy to plan a road trip through the South or Midwest. You could start in St. Louis, and make the roughly four-hour drive on Interstate 70 across the state to Kansas City, Missouri. Make time for a pit stop in Columbia, which is a quintessential college town with the University of Missouri. Boonville is another great stop, where you can tour Warm Springs Ranch, home of the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales. (Walking tours start at $15 .) From Kansas City, it’s about three hours on to Omaha, Nebraska, where you can try the allegedly original Reuben sandwich.
If you’re renting a car, understand that rental car prices can vary dramatically depending on the rental company, whether you’re renting from an airport location versus downtown, and how far in advance you book.
Speaking of renting a car, this might be the year you rent an electric vehicle. The EV may have a more expensive rental price, but it could be cheaper than renting a gas-powered car and filling its tank. AAA has a helpful gas calculator tool that factors in the type of car and where you’re driving to help you see the trade-offs.
Hotel and vacation rental companies also are making it easier to search for accommodations that offer electric vehicle charging. More hotels are promoting electric vehicle charging as a hotel perk, right alongside traditional amenities like pools and breakfast buffets. Many hotels even allow you to charge your car at no cost.
If rental car prices are brutally high, consider booking with alternative rental car companies like Turo or Getaround, which can be cheaper than a major car rental company. Many of these companies are relatively new and allow you to book cars directly from the owners, functioning as an “Airbnb for cars.”
For example, the cost of a weeklong car rental from San Francisco International Airport during the first week of July for a standard, gas-powered car like a Volkswagen Jetta would average about $640 . Head to peer-to-peer car-sharing site Turo, and there are more than a dozen Teslas available to book in San Francisco on the same dates for less than $800.
If you filled the Jetta’s roughly 13-gallon gas tank twice at $6 a gallon (which isn’t unheard of in some states like California), you’d pay more than $150 in gas. That cost plus the rental would have you paying roughly the same amount as booking the Tesla.
With so many variables, it pays to shop around before you make reservations.
If driving a gas-powered car is non-negotiable, master the art of saving money on gas. Download apps like GasBuddy, which track local gas prices and can help guide you to the cheapest station near you. It also helps to drive more efficiently. Adjusting how you speed up, brake or use cruise control can have an impact on your gas usage.
And if all else fails and you’re stuck with a gargantuan gas bill, at least earn rewards for your spending through a rewards credit card. The best gas credit cards can typically net at least 3% back in rewards for your gas station spending.