Washington Watch: If Republicans win in midterm elections, watch for action on gas tax holiday, child tax credit and crime, expert says

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If Republicans take back some control of Congress in November’s midterm elections, what could a divided Washington end up delivering?

GOP and Democratic politicians may “feel like they have to do something” about inflation, so “you might see a move to suspend or reduce the federal gas tax,” said Yuval Levin, an expert at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute.

The White House previously has said that a gasoline 
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tax holiday is an option under consideration as the Biden administration seeks to give Americans relief from high prices, though analysts have cautioned that monkeying with that tax would take away funds that were supposed to be needed for major infrastructure
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projects. 

The annual rate of inflation rose to 8.6% in May, topping forecasts and marking a fresh 40-year high. High gasoline and food prices as well as rising rents helped drive up the latest reading for the consumer price index, or CPI.

“There may be room for compromise on family policy,” Levin also said, with his remarks coming Monday during a Bipartisan Policy Center event titled “Previewing a Potential Republican Congress.”

GOP Sen. Mitt Romney’s child benefit proposal “won some support from Democrats as well as from Republicans, and I think it might be an area where you could think about a reform or transformation of the child tax credit along the lines that he proposed.”

The Biden White House in December expressed openness to working with Romney on child tax credit payments, as the Utah lawmaker called for a bipartisan approach on the issue. Romney has proposed a program similar to the monthly CTC payouts that ended last year due to opposition from Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who criticized other parts of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan as well.

Levin noted the bipartisan deal on new gun-safety measures that was reached over the weekend involves empowering local and state authorities, and that type of approach could get further traction after the midterm elections.

“On crime, we may see some action, because crime is an area where again it’s possible to operate by empowering local authorities and giving them options, and it may be that there’s room for compromise there,” said Levin, whose title at AEI is director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies and Beth and Ravenel Curry chair in public policy.

“And actually President Biden has real experience on that front as a legislator himself in advancing ideas that did win a lot of Republican support in the 1990s.”

To be sure, Levin said it’s “tough” to predict what a divided Washington could accomplish — and he sees a strong likelihood of little action next year as both parties start to focus on the 2024 presidential election.

“You’re also going to see a lot of posturing and a lot of messaging bills where Republicans just try to put Democrats in a tough place looking to 2024. It’s hard to avoid thinking that that’s a lot of what a Republican Congress would end up doing,” he said.

Republicans are widely expected to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the midterm elections, and the GOP is getting good odds for taking back the 50-50 Senate, too.

See: Republicans may win not just House but also Senate in midterm elections — here are 2022’s Senate races to watch

And read: Biden talks up his efforts to tame high prices, as analysts see ‘rough’ midterm elections for him unless inflation abates

U.S. stocks
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DJIA,
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traded sharply lower Monday as financial markets continued to reel from a surprise acceleration in inflation just days ahead of a Federal Reserve interest-rate decision.

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