House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) reaffirmed his opposition to increasing the motor fuels tax as a means of funding surface transportation, but said lawmakers must identify a funding mechanism by Easter recess if they want to pass a long-term bill before current law expires May 31.
Speaking at an event hosted by the National Journal in Washington, D.C., Rep. Shuster said both Congress and the White House Administration lack the political will to increase the motor fuels tax.
Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, who also participated in the event, said a gas tax increase was not a viable political strategy.
“I think pretty much everybody in this town has come to the conclusion that repatriation is where the dollars are,” Rep. Shuster said, according to published reports. “There is no [will] in this Congress or in the administration to do anything with adjusting user fees or taxes.”
Rep. Shuster reportedly remains optimistic that Congress can complete a long-term bill by May, but said that Congress will need to decide soon whether it must pass a short-term patch to fund infrastructure spending through the construction season.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said March 17 at a reauthorization hearing that without some sort of commitment from the federal government in the next week or two there will be dramatic drop offs in summer construction activity.
The Senate Finance Committee recently signaled the possibility of an extension to current law by giving itself until the end of May to identify a mechanism to generate $100 billion for surface transportation.
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