'Modernizing' federal gas tax for national infrastructure project among Problem Solvers Caucus suggestions
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Talks of a $2 trillion infrastructure package have quieted down in Washington. But U.S. Rep. Tom Reed’s Problem Solvers Caucus is hoping their plan will jumpstart a new conversation.
The plan from the bipartisan, 44-member group in the U.S. House sets some guidelines, including some that could be unpopular on both sides of the aisle.
They hope house democrats will consider when bargaining with President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans, if those talks restart here in Washington.
Reed, the PSC’s Republican co-chair, and his Democratic co-chair Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) released the framework in this twelve-page report. It outlines a couple of key areas for funding a massive infrastructure project, which covers everything from roads and bridges to water and airports. The $2 trillion benchmark was set by Trump and top Congressional Democrats in April.
That includes in the caucus’s words “modernizing” the national gasoline tax, likely meaning drivers would pay more at the pump. The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon, a level that has been in place since 1993.
The group also suggest creating public private partnerships between state and federal governments, with local groups. Both of these proposals are expected to be included in any deal that goes through congress.
But raising the national gas tax could be a tough sell for lawmakers in both New York and Pennsylvania, states with some of the highest state gas taxes in the country. (Pennsylvania ranks highest in the nation with 58 cents per gallon and New York ranks fifth-highest with 45 cents per gallon, according to a January report from 24/7 Wall Street.
The report doesn’t call for one specific method of funding, but offers a series of options that reed hopes other members of Congress can support.
“What we did to be constructive in the debate was we listed out the general items that are being discussed,” Reed said. “Can you pick from the items on this list and put together a package? And I think you can if you roll up your sleeves and are willing to get to 80 percent as a victory and not a defeat.”
The 80 percent Reed referred to is the percentage of the public dollars versus private dollars for a massive infrastructure package.