FUEL TAX FIX: Will You Soon Be Paying More At The Pump?

Little Rock, Arkansas – Much to the delight of many trucking stakeholders, political support for raising federal fuel taxes appears to be growing.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA), and its broad coalition of allies, has long been pushing for an increase in federal gas and diesel taxes to aid in the rebuilding of America’s dilapidated infrastructure.

Federal fuel taxes were last hiked in 1993. The current federal gasoline tax sits at 18.4 cents per gallon and the diesel tax remains at 24.4 cents per gallon.

 

Some political observers believe 2019 may be the best chance supporters of raising federal fuel taxes have had in more than a decade to actually accomplish their goal.

Last month U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told a Senate committee the Trump Administration is open to the idea.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), chairman of the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, also continues to urge lawmakers to increase the gas tax to inflation.

Under his plan the tax could go up no more than 1.5 cents per gallon per year.

 

The smaller increase, DeFazio recently said in a committee hearing, “is not going to be particularly disruptive of people’s personal budgets.”

Another plan being discussed in Congress is backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

It would increase the tax by a nickel over each of the next five years.


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President Trump has signaled he would be willing to consider a fuel tax increase as part of a grand bargain with democrats on a robust infrastructure spending package.

During Mr. Trump’s first two years in office Republicans had legislative majorities in the U.S. House and Senate.

 

However, they chose to prioritized tax relief, health insurance and criminal justice reform among other things.

Political fights over the Russia collusion investigation and dysfunctional U.S. immigration policies have hampered bi-bartisanship  in Washington D.C. which will be required in order to come to a meaningful deal.

Lawmakers in President Trump’s own party are now beginning to publicly push him to strike a deal on infrastructure that includes hiking fuel taxes.

Chair of the Senate appropriations subcommittee on transportation, Senator Susan Collins (R-MA), was recently asked whether she supports raising fuel increases and whether President Trump should as well.

 

In response she said flatly, “I think we need to see an infrastructure package from this administration.”

Whether Congress and President Trump can find agreement on an infrastructure spending deal in 2019 will continue to be an important issue to watch, especially as political pressure mounts on both sides of the aisle.

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