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Congressional Democrats slam oil executives over gas prices

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(WASHINGTON) — Congressional Democrats on Thursday accused oil companies of inflating the cost of gasoline and vowed to investigate them, pushing back on who’s to blame for rising prices hurting President Joe Biden’s reelection chances.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other top Democrats were flanked by supporters in matching blue shirts holding signs that read, “Stop gouging us at the pump.”

Schumer criticized recent billion-dollar oil company mergers, such as one between ExxonMobil and Pioneer Natural Resources, as potentially “disastrous for consumers.”

He said previous mergers in the industry decreased competition and led to higher prices.

Schumer said he had already called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the mergers and would urge the Justice Department to look into possible collusion and price fixing.

“The federal government must use every tool at our disposal to investigate the oil industry,” he said.

Schumer also claimed former President Donald Trump offered oil industry CEOs $1 billion in exchange for a reversal of President Joe Biden’s climate policies if Trump were reelected, an accusation Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse repeated.

Trump told a group of oil executives and business leaders that they should donate $1 billion to his presidential campaign because if elected, he would reverse environmental policies of the Biden administration, sources familiar with the meeting told ABC News.

The conversation took place during a private dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in April.

In a statement, the Trump campaign did not dispute the reporting.

Whitehouse said the Senate Budget and Finance Committees would be investigating Trump’s statements, as would Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin.

The news conference comes days after the Biden administration announced it would release 1 million barrels of gasoline reserves in time for the summer travel season. Republicans attacked the move as an election-year ploy that hurts the nation’s energy reserve.

The national average price of gas is about $3.61 per gallon, according to AAA, a seven-cent increase from the past year at the same time.

The American Petroleum Institute, an organization supporting the U.S. oil and natural gas industry, says on its website “Petroleum prices are determined by market forces of supply and demand, not individual companies.”

ABC News has reached out for comment on Sen. Schumer’s accusations.

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