Republicans: We will consider raising federal fuel tax

Republicans: We will consider raising federal fuel tax

Incoming Republican Senator John Thune wants to look at options on ways to pay for highway infrastructure spending bill that expires in May.

Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota says all options must be looked at to fill an enormous shortfall when the existing Highway Trust Fund legislation expires in May. This could mean raising the federal fuel tax.

The Associated Press (AP) reported on Jan. 4 that the new incoming senator said that although he is opposed to increasing any tax, he believes lawmakers will need to keep all options available when they return to Washington this week.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Thune,¬†who will chair the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee said, “I don’t think we take anything off the table at this point. Those discussions continue… It is important that we fund infrastructure.”

The AP reported that gas and diesel taxes haven’t risen since 1993, resulting in perennial shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund that pays for most road projects. Several commissions have called for raising the taxes, but the U.S. Congress has been reluctant. Instead lawmakers have dipped repeatedly into the general treasury to keep the trust fund solvent.

Online news source The Hill reported that Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) had proposed cutting other taxes while raising the gas tax user fee $0.12. The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and the diesel tax is 24.4 cents per gallon.

The Highway Trust Fund currently has three accounts, the Highway Account which funds road construction, a smaller Mass Transit Account which supports mass transit and also a Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund. It was established in 1956 to finance the United States Interstate Highway System and certain other roads. The Mass Transit Fund was created in 1982. The federal tax on motor fuels yielded $28.2 billion in 2006.

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