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 topics.

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 package.

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 tax.

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


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 23, 2021 12:31 ET (16:31 GMT)

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