Senate Kicks Off Highway Bill Debate

At a hearing kicking off Senate debate of the highway bill, Senator David Vitter (R-La.) laid out what he considers to be three viable options for fixing shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund.

While questioning Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx at an Environment and Public Works Committee hearing Jan. 28, Sen. Vitter said a gas tax increase coupled with some other tax cut, repatriation or additional domestic energy production represented three practicable options for generating infrastructure revenues.

Sen. Vitter said increasing the 18.4 cents per-gallon fuel tax could pass “if paired with a lower-middle class tax cut” to offset consumer costs.

Sen. Vitter also advocated for increased domestic energy production with royalties funneled to the Highway Trust Fund.  

Revenue gained from tax repatriation as part of a larger tax reform package would be enough to fund a long-term bill, Sen. Vitter said, but wouldn’t be a permanent solution.

During the hearing, Secretary Foxx said the Obama administration will unveil a revised “new and improved” multi-year funding bill to fix the nation’s roads and bridges.

The Administration in April 2014 unveiled the Grow America Act, a four-year, $302 billion proposal that would be paid for by reforming the tax code and ending some tax breaks for businesses. The proposal also sought to lift the decades-old ban on tolling existing federal interstate capacity, allow states to divert toll revenue to unrelated projects, and require the use of all-electronic tolling.

Senate Budget Committee ranking member Bernie Sanders on Jan. 27 introduced legislation that would invest $1 trillion in U.S. infrastructure over five years, but the Senator has not identified where that money will come from.

Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) are teaming up to file a transportation funding bill they say could bring back up to $2 trillion in corporate tax revenue currently in foreign banks to help pay for U.S. infrastructure projects, according to The Hill newspaper. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AAA and the American Trucking Associations said in a Jan. 26 letter to members of Congress that raising the gax tax would be the easiest way to close the transportation funding shortfall.

In 2014, Congress passed a 10-month extension of the highway bill that expires in May.

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman's photo

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman develops and executes communications strategies to advance NATSO’s public relations and advocacy goals. Tiffany also develops and oversees partnerships related to the NATSO Foundation’s public outreach initiatives. Tiffany lives in the D.C. metro area with her husband and their two sons.More
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