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Data: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Gasoline prices heading into Memorial Day weekend — the start of the summer driving season — are fairly modest by historical standards and lower than last year's levels.

Why it matters: It's a break for people who need or choose to drive long distances. That's also good news for President Trump. Energy prices are politically ominous for presidents when they're high.

  • This isn't lost on Trump, who tried to take credit for gasoline prices when they were falling early in the year and in general likes to highlight the topic.
  • He also makes a public show of leaning on OPEC.

But, but, but: U.S. presidents have limited and indirect influence on pump prices. Instead, they're most directly tethered to oil prices set on global markets that respond to all kinds of global economic and geopolitical forces.

  • Most recently, trade disputes are putting downward pressure on prices.
  • Overall, the White House faces a tricky balancing act as it toughens sanctions against Iranian exports while trying to avoid political blowback over how that could put upward pressure on crude prices.

Where it stands: Gasoline prices have been rising for much of the year but dipped in recent weeks. Per AAA, the nationwide average price is $2.85 per gallon for regular gasoline today, roughly 12 cents below last year at this time. AAA says...

"For the 37.6 million motorists hitting the road for Memorial Day they can expect gas prices to be cheaper than last year with the exception of a few states in the West Coast and Rockies region."

Go deeper: The states with the most expensive gas prices

Go deeper

Bill Clinton slams McConnell and Trump: "Their first value is power"

Former President Bill Clinton on Sunday called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) vow to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's vacant Supreme Court seat before the next presidential inauguration "superficially hypocritical."

The big picture: Clinton, who nominated Ginsburg to the court in 1993, declined to say whether he thinks Democrats should respond by adding more justices if they take back the Senate and the White House in November. Instead, he called on Republicans to "remember the example Abraham Lincoln set" by not confirming a justice in an election year.

Pelosi: Trump wants to "crush" ACA with Ginsburg replacement

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that President Trump is rushing to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because he "wants to crush the Affordable Care Act."

Why it matters: Pelosi wants to steer the conversation around the potential Ginsburg replacement to health care, which polls show is a top issue for voters, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration has urged the courts to strike down the law, and with it, protections for millions with pre-existing conditions.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' Armageddon option

A makeshift memorial outside the Supreme Court yesterday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Furious Democrats are considering total war — profound changes to two branches of government, and even adding stars to the flag — if Republicans jam through a Supreme Court nominee then lose control of the Senate.

On the table: Adding Supreme Court justices ... eliminating the Senate's 60-vote threshold to end filibusters ... and statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico. "If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021," Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) tweeted.