Vice President Kamala Harris said Friday that the record-high gas prices in the United States are the "price to pay for democracy," echoing the sentiment President Biden expressed earlier this month during his State of the Union address.
During a press conference in Bucharest, Romania, Harris was asked about the surge in gas prices across the country, as Americans experience the highest gas prices since the 2007-09 financial crisis, with the national gas price average reaching more than $4 per gallon — the highest average to date, according to AAA.
"We are, we have the unfortunate experience, all of us right now, who are not in Ukraine, of witnessing horror," Harris said, referring to the refugee crisis as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war rages on for a sixteenth day.
"So, we are committed in everything we are doing," Harris said. "And yes, the president did say in the State of the Union, there is a price to pay for democracy — got to stand with your friends — and as everybody knows, even in your personal life, being loyal to those friendships based on common principles and values, sometimes, it’s difficult — often, it ain’t easy."
"But that is what the friendship is about — shared values," Harris said. "So that’s what we’re doing."
The Biden administration has been criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for the high gas prices, which have risen sharply under his administration — even before Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24.
Many have publicly called for him to open up oil and gas drilling in the U.S. to lessen the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
But the White House has repeatedly blamed Putin for the record-high gas prices here at home, even coining the surge as the "#PutinPriceHike" and vowing that Biden will do everything he can to shield Americans from "pain at the pump."
Biden has been facing criticism from Republicans, who have been urging him to lift his executive orders that canceled the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada and froze new oil and gas leases on federal lands.
On Wednesday, though, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said restarting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline was not one of the options on the table.
"If we’re trying to bring about more supply, that does not address any problem," Psaki said. "The pipeline is just a delivery mechanism – it’s not an oil field, so it does not provide more supply into the system."
When pressed further on whether restarting the pipeline is something the White House is considering, Psaki said: "There’s no plans for that, and it would not address any of the problems we’re having currently."
Biden this week said it is "not true" that his administration is holding back domestic energy production, warning that gas prices will "go up further" from their current record levels. He also reiterated his support for government spending on renewable energy sources and criticized the oil and gas industry for not taking full advantage of drilling opportunities in the U.S.
Biden was asked Tuesday if he had a message for the American people on gas prices.
"They’re going to go up," he said.
When asked what is he going to do about it, Biden replied: "Can’t do much right now. Russia is responsible."