House bill would up fuel taxes to pay for highways, tie rate to inflation

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fuelThe U.S. House this week introduced a bill that would tie the current flat rate fuel tax to inflation as a long-term highway funding measure and appropriate an immediate $12 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to ensure short-term solvency.

The bill, dubbed the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure, would also establish a task force to oversee the Highway Trust Fund and its solvency and put in place measures to raise fuel taxes if Congress fails to prevent shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund by the start of 2017 and 2020.

The first adjustment to fuel taxes would come immediately by changing the language of the law currently dictating fuel prices to base the price off of the cost of living for 2014 rather than 1992. Subsequent tax increases would come again if the Trust Fund continues to come up short and would be set in 2017 and 2020 if needed.

The bill has bi-partisan support — cosponsored by 10 Democrats and seven Republicans — and has the endorsement of the American Trucking Associations, the Chamber of Commerce, AAA, AFL-CIO and a long list of others.

The bill does not include any regulatory changes or mandates and is just 35 pages long, centering solely on bringing revenue to the Highway Trust Fund.

Congress must pass some type of highway funding measure before May 31, the expiration date of the stopgap measure passed last year upon the expiration of 2012’s MAP-21 funding law.

If Congress can not pass a long-term measure, it likely will be forced to pass another stopgap funding measure to give lawmakers more time to hammer out a more long-term bill.

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