Rep. DeFazio to Focus on Transportation Reauthorization After Infrastructure Talks Fall Apart

House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) plans to pursue a surface transportation reauthorization as well as individual pieces of infrastructure legislation after infrastructure talks between Democratic Leadership and the White House broke down on May 22.

President Donald Trump ended a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) at the White House during what was supposed to be the second official meeting to discuss a $2 trillion infrastructure bill. The President and lawmakers were expected to discuss how to pay for such a large increase in infrastructure investment.

Following the meeting’s end, Rep. DeFazio said that he would continue to work with Republicans to move individual pieces of legislation. Senate Republican leaders have said previously that they prefer to prioritize the surface transportation reauthorization rather than focus on a broad infrastructure bill.  

"Even if a transformative deal with the White House remains elusive in the near term, I will continue to use my position ... to work with Republicans to move individual pieces of legislation that will make a difference," DeFazio said in a statement.

The events of May 22 occurred just one day after Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced a measure to raise the federal motor fuels tax and index it to inflation. NATSO members met with lawmakers on May 15 during their annual day on Capitol Hill to advocate for increasing the motor fuels tax as the most efficient way to pay for infrastructure.

The Rebuild America Act of 2019 would increase the federal excise tax on gasoline and diesel fuel five cents a year for the next five years. After 2023, the federal gasoline tax would increase to 43.3 cents per gallon and the federal diesel tax would increase to 49.3 cents per gallon. After 2024, the motor fuels tax would be adjusted for inflation.

The measure was praised by NATSO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Trucking Associations.

In a statement to media, NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings thanked Congressman Blumenauer for his leadership in introducing legislation that would increase funding for infrastructure through the fairest and most efficient means possible.

Construction costs and motor vehicle fuel efficiency have continued to climb, yet the federal diesel and gas taxes are the same as they were in 1993 when a gallon of gasoline averaged $1.11 per gallon.

NATSO has long held that increasing the motor fuels tax represents the most efficient means of increasing critical infrastructure revenues. NATSO opposes short-sighted proposals such as tolling existing interstates and commercializing rest areas. 

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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