WASHINGTON — Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Tuesday introduced the Rebuild America Act of 2019, which would incrementally increase the federal gasoline and diesel taxes to invest in America’s infrastructure.
The legislation raises the fuels tax by five cents a year over five years, indexes it to inflation, and establishes Congress’ intention to replace it with a more equitable, stable source of funding within 10 years.
“The gas tax was last raised more than 25 years ago, which means we are paying for our 2019 infrastructure needs with 1993 dollars. That is unacceptable,” Blumenauer said. “Our nation’s infrastructure is falling apart as we fall behind our global competitors. The cost of underinvestment falls especially hard on working families and low-income individuals who can’t afford the cost of a blown tire or lost wages due to congestion. It is past time that we get real about funding our infrastructure needs, we can’t afford inaction any longer.”
The legislation drew immediate praise from Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations.
“Great credit goes to Earl Blumenauer for proposing a solution to the infrastructure crisis in America,” Spear said. “Truckers see that roads and bridges are deteriorating more each year, and the traffic and congestion that impacts people’s daily lives must be solved. Real problems call for real solutions, and the Rebuild America Act enjoys support from a broad spectrum of organizations — business and labor, as well as families across the country. This legislation would save money, by addressing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure – which costs the average American more than $1,500 per year in repairs and congestion. We thank Rep. Blumenauer for his leadership and hope that Congress works with constructive leaders like him to find a solution to improve our decaying roads and bridges.”
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association backs the tax hike.
“OOIDA has always favored equitable raises in fuel taxes as a means to fund America’s highway infrastructure, and will continue to engage policymakers on sustainable solutions for the future that don’t disproportionately impact professional drivers,” said Director of Public Relations Norita Taylor.
NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings echoed Spear’s comment.
“We thank Rep. Blumenauer for his leadership in introducing legislation that will increase funding for infrastructure through the fairest and most efficient means possible,” Mullings said. “Construction costs and motor vehicle fuel efficiency have continued to climb, but the federal diesel and gas taxes are the same as they were in 1993 when a gallon of gasoline averaged $1.11 per gallon. The buying power of the federal fuel tax has plummeted.”
Mullings said NATSO has long held that increasing the motor fuels taxes represents the most efficient means of increasing critical infrastructure revenues. NATSO opposes short-sighted proposals such as tolling existing interstates and commercializing rest areas.
The Highway Trust Fund currently is funded by an 18.4 cents per gallon tax on gasoline and 24.4 cents a gallon tax on diesel. The federal fuel tax was last increased in 1993.
Mullings said over the past 25 years, construction and maintenance costs have increased and the fuel tax has remained stagnant, eroding the buying power of the tax by 40 percent.
“It is a fact that we need more funding for roads and bridges. Every day that we fail to invest more in our infrastructure, we pay the price in increased fatal accidents, traffic congestion, and higher cost of goods,” Mullings said. “As America’s aging roads and bridges continue to feel the strain, it is time for our leaders in Washington to do the right thing by raising the nation’s motor fuels taxes and invest in our nation’s global competitiveness.”
Introduction of Blumenauer’s legislation follows only days reports after POLITICO reported that the White House has been reassuring conservative leaders that it has no plans to hike the gas and diesel tax to help fund the massive infrastructure package that President Donald Trump hopes to negotiate with Congress.
Blumenauer, senior member of the Ways and Means Committee and longtime advocate for infrastructure investment, said the U.S. faces the largest infrastructure funding gap in the world.
He said the sector with the greatest shortfall is surface transportation, which the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates needs more than $1.1 trillion of investment by 2025. Since 2010, 35 states with legislatures controlled by both parties have voted to raise their gas taxes. Inaction will cost families $3,400 in annual disposable income by 2025, whereas a 25-cent gas tax increase costs the average driver less than $3.00 a week and contributes nearly $400 billion toward upgrading roads, bridges, and transit systems. Every $1.3 billion in infrastructure investment adds 29,000 construction jobs, yields $2 billion in economic growth, and reduces the federal deficit by $200 million.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.