Bipartisan Group Backs Gas-Tax Increase as Option to Fund Infrastructure-- 2nd Update
By Andrew Duehren
WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of House lawmakers endorsed
raising the gasoline tax as a possible way to pay for
infrastructure spending, lending support to a measure that both
Republican and Democratic proposals have avoided in the debate
about how to cover the cost of an infrastructure package.
The group of 58 lawmakers, dubbed the Problem Solvers Caucus,
proposed indexing gas and diesel taxes to inflation, highway
construction costs, fuel-economy standards, or some combination of
the three in a report on infrastructure released Friday. The report
lays out several possible fee increases, including a vehicle-miles
traveled tax that would collect revenue from electric vehicles.
Congress hasn't raised the gas tax, which stands at 18.4 cents a
gallon, since 1993.
While the bipartisan group doesn't lay out specific funding
levels, it does call for federal investments in rail, water
infrastructure, and broadband. Closing the gap between taxes owed
and taxes paid and creating a national infrastructure bank are
among other revenue ideas the group lays out.
The report comes as President Biden seeks to advance his $2.3
trillion infrastructure plan on Capitol Hill. A group of Senate
Republicans outlined a $568 billion proposal Thursday, advancing an
alternative to Mr. Biden's plan, which GOP lawmakers have
criticized as too broad.
"We cannot afford four more years of crumbling bridges, roads,
and tunnels, lead-filled pipes, and failed transportation, which is
why the Problem Solvers Caucus is putting partisanship aside to
find a solution that brings both parties to the table," said Rep.
Josh Gottheimer (D., N.J.), the co-chairman of the group.
Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus recently met with top
White House officials to discuss infrastructure and other
Figuring out how to pay for infrastructure investments is at the
center of the early efforts to reach a bipartisan agreement. The
White House has repeatedly said it is opposed to raising user fees
like the gas tax to pay for infrastructure, arguing that it would
disproportionately affect lower-income Americans.
The White House has proposed raising the corporate tax rate from
21% to 28% and increasing taxes on U.S. companies' foreign
earnings. That plan has drawn opposition from Republicans and some
Democrats, who instead favor relying on a more modest increase in
the corporate tax rate, user fees or debt to finance the
The Senate Republicans in their outline out Thursday said they
wouldn't agree to any increase in corporate taxes, instead calling
for using existing federal dollars and other user fees to pay for
the plan. But they said they wouldn't support raising the gas
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Senate have also held a
series of recent meetings to explore a possible compromise. With
narrow control of the House and Senate, Democrats have the power to
pass an infrastructure package without Republican support.
But a political desire to find a bipartisan agreement and the
procedural limitations of passing legislation along party lines
have pushed Democrats to try to first find a compromise with the
GOP. Earlier this year, Democrats moved forward with a $1.9
trillion Covid-19 relief package after dismissing a roughly $618
billion GOP counteroffer as too small.
"The time is now for Congress and the administration to reach
across the aisle, unite and boost investments in our surface
transportation network that will move our transportation systems
into the 21st century, said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.),
another leader of the Problem Solvers Caucus.
Write to Andrew Duehren at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 23, 2021 12:31 ET (16:31 GMT)
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