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Is the White House considering a fuel tax hike?

Feb. 15, 2018
Debate ensues following closed-door meeting between President Trump and members of Congress.

President Donald Trump said a 25-cent fuel tax increase would be needed to pay for his new infrastructure plan, a Democratic senator told CNN on Thursday.

The comments by Trump, according to Sen. Tom Carper, came during a bipartisan infrastructure meeting at the White House on Wednesday. Carper is the ranking Democrat on the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee.

"He said that he knew it was a difficult thing for legislators to support and said that he would support the leadership to do that and provide the political cover to do that," Carper told CNN. "And he came back to that theme again and again and again."

Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who was also at the White House meeting on Wednesday, told CNN that the president was not advocating for a fuel tax.

“He was looking at all the options,” the Republican said. “All he said was we need to do something and that is still on the table.

Inafoe went on to tell CNN that Carper’s comments were a “combination of exaggeration and wishful thinking.”

President Trump sent his long-awaited infrastructure funding outline to Congress on Monday. The 55-page document leaves most funding decisions to lawmakers, but calls for the creation of legislation that will “stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in new investment over 10 years.”

Besides recommending expanded tolling and ramping up privatization of rest areas, it also seeks significant changes to existing workforce development programs.

Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), said the plan "unfortunately falls short of the president’s campaign promise to go big and bold, because it lacks the required federal investment. A proposal that relies on fake funding schemes like highway tolls and privatizing rest areas will not generate the revenue necessary to make significant infrastructure improvements."

Last year, ATA proposed that an extra 20-cent per gallon “fee” be built into the price of transportation fuels collected at the terminal rack – an extra fuel tax to be phased in over four years with the monies dedicated solely to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) for roadway expansion and upkeep needs. Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce went a step further back in January and called for a 25-cent per gallon hike in federal fuel taxes, which would also be phased-in over five years. The federal fuel tax rate, which hasn’t been raised in nearly 25 years, is 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel.

The administration has stressed that the how the transportation plan is funded is far from decided.

“Everything is on the table,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. “The gas tax, like many of the other pay-fors that are being discussed, is not ideal. There are pros and cons.”

Chao on Tuesday noted that a hike in the gas tax could have an “adverse impact, a very regressive impact, on the most vulnerable within our society.”

“So these are tough decisions,” the secretary went on to say,” which is why, once again, we need to start the dialogue with the Congress and so we can address these issues on this very important point.”

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Fleet Owner Staff

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