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Chamber of Commerce To Push Gas Tax Increase

The Washington Post
Published: 1/16/2018 11:56:42 PM
Modified: 1/16/2018 11:56:46 PM

Washington — With President Donald Trump and Congress turning their attention to infrastructure in the coming weeks, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is preparing for an uphill battle: a push to raise the federal gas tax by 25 cents per gallon to help pay for the initiative.

The proposal by the nation’s largest business lobby, which will be formally unveiled later this week, is part of a series of principles it will offer in a bid to help shape the debate over upgrading the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and other critical infrastructure.

Chamber President Thomas J. Donohue said his organization wants “to put our oar in the water” and acknowledged that it would be “a tough vote” to raise the gas tax for the first time since 1993. But he argued that support has been building in the business community and elsewhere.

“I’ve been pushing this for a long, long time, but now gangs of people are pushing it,” Donohue said in an interview in which he also said immigration reform would be critical to ensuring there is sufficient labor available for construction of public works projects.

An infrastructure bill was touted by Trump as a first-100-days priority — and one with potential for bipartisan support — but put on the back burner amid other bruising legislative battles over health care and taxes.

The White House has pledged to unveil its vision of a bill ahead of Trump’s State of the Union address later this month.

In private meetings, Trump has floated the idea of raising the federal gas tax by as much as 50 cents per gallon but received a chilly reception from Republican lawmakers in particular. Still, aides say the idea of an increase hasn’t been completely taken off the table.

As envisioned by the Chamber, the 25-cent increase would be applied both to the current taxes of 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel fuel. The increased levy is estimated to raise more than $375 billion over the coming decade, according to Chamber staff.

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