- President Donald Trump reportedly told a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers in a meeting at the White House last week that he would support a 25-cent-per-gallon increase to the federal gas and diesel taxes to help pay for his $1.5 trillion infrastructure program, according to Bloomberg.
- Those in attendance said the surprise proposal to raise the gas tax also came hand in hand with the president's willingness to increase the federal contribution toward an infrastructure program beyond the $200 billion the administration has specified previously. It is unknown how much more the president would be willing to commit on behalf of the federal government.
- While there are some lawmakers who would back such a gas-tax increase, there are also those staunchly opposed to any new taxes at the pump. The federal gas tax is the primary revenue source for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), which allocates money to the states for repairs and upgrades to roadways and bridges.
The White House had previously floated a seven-cent increase to the gas tax, but that idea was immediately met with resistance from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who said he would not support that kind of tax increase. It's not a giant leap then to presume that a 25-cent hike would come up against even stiffer opposition as it makes its way through Congress.
No matter which side of the gas-tax issue federal legislators fall, one thing seems to be certain. If the HTF does not find a new source of revenue, from an increase to the current gas and diesel taxes or otherwise, it will be broke within the next 10 years, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office.
Last month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also proposed a 25-cent hike in the gas tax, which the chamber said would raise $375 billion during the next decade. Like the president, the chamber has also suggested a program of private investment as a way to stretch federal funding, expedited permitting and federal loans as a way of financing state and local projects.
Also in January — and a little out of left field — Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) proposed increasing the corporate tax rate to 23% as a way to raise the federal government's share of the money needed to fund the president's infrastructure program. This is an unlikely option as last year's tax reform bill lowered the rate to 21%.