By Ashley Halsey III June 18 at 2:33 PM
A bipartisan Senate proposal emerged Wednesday to rescue beleaguered federal transportation funding by raising the tax on gasoline by 12 cents a gallon.
The proposal to hike the 18.4-cent federal tax for the first time since 1993 came from Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and won quick endorsement from an array of advocates ranging from road builders to AAA.
In addition to increasing the tax by 6 cents in each of the next two years, the senators want the rate indexed to inflation. Failure to keep pace with inflation over the past 20 years, along with steadily increasing fuel economy, has caused the Federal Highway Trust Fund that receives the money to sink to a dangerous level.
The Transportation Department projected this week that by midsummer, the fund will no longer be able to meet its obligations. The Obama administration, citing a fragile economic recovery, has been reluctant to endorse a gas-tax increase. Members of Congress facing midterm elections have preferred to look to other sources.
“For too long, Congress has shied away from taking serious action to update our country’s aging infrastructure,” Murphy said. “We’re currently facing a transportation crisis that will only get worse if we don’t take bold action to fund the Highway Trust Fund. Raising the gas tax isn’t an easy choice, but we’re not elected to make easy decisions.”
The White House has heard some echo from Capitol Hill for its plan to fund transportation through a corporate tax overhaul, but the notion has little momentum and implementation would take too long to meet the immediate need.
Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) has bipartisan backing for his plan to fund transportation by letting U.S. corporations bring home their burgeoning offshore bank accounts at a reduced tax rate.
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