By |  July 25, 2013

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee discussed increasing the federal gas tax during a hearing about the existing shortfall between incoming and outgoing road and transit funding, according to The Hill.

The 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax, which generates about $35 billion per year, has not risen since 1993. The Hill reports that the last surface transportation bill spent $54 billion per year.

Considering the disparity, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee members are discussing a variety of potential solutions to address the funding shortfall.

Democrat committee members suggested raising the federal gas tax as a solution, but Republicans met the idea with resistance.

“We’re sitting here talking about a tax increase,” said Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.), according to The Hill. “We just had a tax increase on January 1 and we’re going to have another tax increase next year with ObamaCare.

“I don’t think most Americans know what the fuel tax is,” he added. “What they know is the price of gas. If we find a way to bring the price of fuel down, it might be easier to raise the gas tax a couple of pennies.”

According to The Hill, Rice said projects such as the Keystone XL oil pipeline could help lower gas prices enough to justify a gas tax increase.

Regardless of how new funds are raised, Democrats and Republicans agree something must be done.

“Without changes in spending levels or additional revenue, the trust fund will continue to be unable to meet its obligations over the 10-year budget window,” said Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.), according to The Hill. “Many of our members were not in Congress when previous funding shortfalls were addressed, and it is important that members understand the fiscal reality we face and the measures the U.S. DOT would need to take.”

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