Republican Congressional leaders and the White House continue to seek an agreement to pay for a long-term fix for the Highway Trust Fund, despite strong GOP opposition to the size and ambition of the president’s fiscal 2016 budget proposal to fund transportation.
With the Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of money in May, lawmakers are likely going to have to make do with at least one more short-term extension of highway programs this spring. The six-year highway bill is unlikely to be complete by the May deadline.
In a hearing Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew described the White House’s plan to impose a one-time tax on overseas profits to pay for transportation programs, that would raise $238 billion toward a six-year $478 billion highway bill.
“What we’ve put forward in our plan to use one-time savings from tax reform to fund infrastructure has all of the ingredients for something that might be a basis for a bipartisan agreement,” Lew told CQ.
Obama’s budget did not push to fund highways with an increase in the gas tax.
Nevertheless, on Wednesday Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced a proposal to increase the gas tax.
“Every credible independent report indicates that we are not meeting the demands of our stressed and decaying infrastructure system – roads, bridges and transit,” said Blumenauer in a statement. “The gas tax used to be an efficient road user fee, but with inflation and increased fuel efficiency, especially for some types of vehicles, there is no longer a good relationship between what road users pay and how much they benefit.”
The measure has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National AFL-CIO, the construction and trucking industry, cyclists, professional groups, numerous associations of small and medium businesses, local governments and transit agencies.