Some Democrats are miffed by two of their colleagues in the U.S. Senate, and frankly, we don’t blame them.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, both D-N.Y., two of the nation’s most powerful Democrats, did not join their colleagues to urge President Joe Biden to take action to reduce energy costs, remaining largely silent on potential solutions to address record-setting gasoline prices.
Prices at the pump in New York have increased by more than 42% in the last year. The average price statewide for regular unleaded Thursday was $3.57 per gallon and upstate higher around $3.60 per gallon. In these parts, the average is around $3.50 per gallon. Some experts predict the price could hit $5 per gallon.
U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both from Connecticut, and eight other Democratic lawmakers representing New England states sent a letter to Biden on Oct. 28 to urge his administration to provide financial support and take steps to help reduce energy costs for local families.
Schumer and Gillibrand were not part of the letter or effort urging Biden to take action. The senators’ representatives did not respond to repeated requests for comment on why they did not call on the president to take action or their stance on dipping into the national reserve.
Sadly, one theory is that their decision is politically motivated. The state’s leading Democrats may be avoiding the debate in the wake of Republican victories across the state last week, having years before they seek re-election.
“My guess,” said Alexander Cohen, an assistant professor of political science at Clarkson University, “(is) Gillibrand and Schumer have relatively safe seats and aren’t worried about reelection, and so they’re looking to back Biden and the establishment as they prepare to get walloped in 2022.”
Gillibrand and Schumer must know that higher prices for food, clothing, homes and apartments and consumer goods of all kinds are built into soaring gas prices. We hope Schumer and Gillibrand’s constituents — that is, all New Yorkers — send them letters voicing outrage over historically gas prices and demanding accountability for their confusing and frustrating silence. And we hope the senators listen.