Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., has introduced legislation he says would save the Highway Trust Fund from insolvency.
HR 4848, “The Repeal and Rebuild Act,” is a long-term solution that would create American jobs, fix the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and finally break the transportation funding impasse that has plagued Congress for years, according to the senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
“America’s economic competitiveness is at stake. While Congress hems and haws over how to deal with the dwindling Highway Trust Fund, the rest of the world is moving full-speed ahead,” DeFazio said. “I introduced a real proposal today because I’m tired of Congress being all talk and no action.”
“The Repeal and Rebuild Act” would:
- Repeal the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon;
- Increase the tax on a barrel of oil that is processed into gasoline to $6.75 and index it to construction cost inflation and fleet fuel economy;
- Index the federal diesel tax of 24.4 cents per gallon to construction cost inflation and fleet fuel economy;
- Bond the new revenue to backfill the Highway Trust Fund shortfall; and
- Support a $324 billion six-year reauthorization.
In the first year the barrel tax would raise less than the 18.4 cents gas tax, providing potential short-term relief to consumers, according to DeFazio. The tax would not be applied to aviation, rail, or home heating fuel.
It’s estimated changing the diesel tax as DeFazio is calling for would see it increase to around 26 cents per gallon the first year it’s in effect, raising it to more than 47 cents per gallon after a decade.
It’s estimated the Highway Trust Fund, which goes to day for federal road and bridge projects, will become insolvent this summer without an additional funding source. Also the current federal highway spending authorization expires at the end of September. Failure to resolve either will bring federally funded road projects to a near halt.
Congress is not even close to reaching a consensus to resolving either issue, raising talk recently lawmakers could pass a short-term highway funding mechanism, before the current authorization expires, rather than a multi-year solution.