Bipartisan Group Backs Gas-Tax Increase as Option to Fund Infrastructure

WASHINGTON—A bipartisan group of House lawmakers endorsed raising the gasoline tax as a possible way to pay for infrastructure spending, lending support to a measure that both Republican and Democratic proposals have avoided in the debate about how to cover the cost of an infrastructure package.

The group of 58 lawmakers, dubbed the Problem Solvers Caucus, proposed indexing gas and diesel taxes to inflation, highway construction costs, fuel-economy standards, or some combination of the three in a report on infrastructure released Friday. The report lays out several possible fee increases, including a vehicle-miles traveled tax that would collect revenue from electric vehicles. Congress hasn’t raised the gas tax, which stands at 18.4 cents a gallon, since 1993.

While the bipartisan group doesn’t lay out specific funding levels, it does call for federal investments in rail, water infrastructure, and broadband. Closing the gap between taxes owed and taxes paid and creating a national infrastructure bank are among other revenue ideas the group lays out.

The report comes as President Biden seeks to advance his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan on Capitol Hill. A group of Senate Republicans outlined a $568 billion proposal Thursday, advancing an alternative to Mr. Biden’s plan, which GOP lawmakers have criticized as too broad.

“We cannot afford four more years of crumbling bridges, roads, and tunnels, lead-filled pipes, and failed transportation, which is why the Problem Solvers Caucus is putting partisanship aside to find a solution that brings both parties to the table,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D., N.J.), the co-chair of the group.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer and other members of the Problem Solvers Caucus at the Capitol in December.



Photo:

Rod Lamkey – Cnp/Zuma Press

The White House has repeatedly said it is opposed to raising user fees like the gas tax to pay for infrastructure, arguing that it would disproportionately impact lower-income Americans, instead proposing a series of corporate tax increase to cover the cost of its package. The Senate Republicans said their plan wouldn’t include an increase in the gas tax, calling for using existing federal dollars and other user fees to pay for the plan.

Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus recently met with top White House officials to discuss infrastructure and other topics.

Democrats and Republicans are both interested in spending money on the nation’s infrastructure. But the two sides don’t see eye to eye on what that plan should be and how to pay for it. WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib explains. Photo illustration: Emma Scott

Write to Andrew Duehren at andrew.duehren@wsj.com

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Source: WSJ – US News

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