WASHINGTON – Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., has introduced a bill to increase the gas and diesel fuel tax by a penny.
That would raise the federal gas tax to 19.4 cents a gallon and the federal diesel tax to 25.4 cents a gallon.
DeFazio is the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The gas and diesel taxes would increase by about a penny each year, but by no more than 1.5 cents. The exact cost would be determined by two indexes: the National Highway Construction Cost Index, and the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard, DeFazio said.
DeFazio said that revenue from the increases could be leveraged in the bond market to raise an additional $17 billion a year for roads, bridges and transit systems.
“It's a pathetically small increase in the gas tax, and if anybody [in Congress] doesn't have enough guts to vote for something that can do a $500 billion investment, that would create tens of thousands of jobs, they don't belong here,” DeFazio said in a meeting with reporters Wednesday.
DeFazio told reporters he has discussed his bill with the White House.
“They didn't say no,” he said, adding he knows the proposal won't go far without administration support.
“This is going to have to be a push by the president,” he said. “I've never heard Trump come out against a reasonable increase in user fees. Trump is going to be critical, because he has to overcome the Republican inertia in the House.”
Trump has said he is working on a $1 trillion infrastructure plan but has not said how he would pay for it.
The American Trucking Associations and the Truckload Carriers Association both support fuel tax increases as a method of funding the Highway Trust Fund. A spokesperson for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said OOIDA supported a fuel tax increase as long as all the money went to roads and bridges.
In 2016, he introduced legislation that he said would save the Highway Trust Fund from insolvency.
He labeled the “The Repeal and Rebuild Act” as a long-term solution that would “create American jobs, fix the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and finally break the transportation funding impasse that has plagued Congress for years.”
The act would have repealed the federal gas tax and replaced it with an increase on a barrel of oil that is processed into gasoline to $6.75 and index it to construction cost inflation and fleet fuel economy.
It also would have indexed the federal diesel tax to construction cost inflation and fleet fuel economy.
The bill died in the House Ways and Means Committee.