Today, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) released a joint letter with House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) calling for congressional investigations into possible price gouging by oil companies:
We believe that protecting American consumers in these unprecedented market conditions is of paramount importance. [“¦] Consistent with our constitutional authority, we will ask the committees of jurisdiction to conduct oversight of these important questions.
Congress should investigate gasoline price gouging, but it is unclear whether Frist will follow through. Frist called for similar oversight last year in the wake of rising post-Katrina gas prices:
If there are those who abuse the free enterprise system to advantage themselves and their businesses at the expense of all Americans, they ought to be exposed, and they ought to be ashamed. [“¦] So today, I am asking the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee to hold a joint hearing to examine the reasons behind today’s high energy prices.
The Senate Energy and Commerce held hearings in which executives from Exxon and Chevron tried to defend their companies’ record profits. Yet committee chairman Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) refused to swear them in, and in the end, nothing was accomplished.
The American people deserve better this time around. If hearings do occur, these oil CEOs should be called in as witnesses, but they should be required to tell Americans the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about their business practices.