February 22, 2017
WASHINGTON- As President Donald Trump and lawmakers in both parties roll out massive infrastructure plans, no one seems to be willing to consider the hottest, most vexing piece of that legislative puzzle: raising the federal gasoline tax.
Suddenly, the effort has an important new ally: the nation’s railroads.
Motorists and truckers pay the same 18.4 cents and 24.4 cents a gallon, respectively, they did when Bill Clinton was president from 1993 to 2001. But those pennies don’t buy what they did in 1993.
The tax was enough to pay for the federal share of building and maintaining the nation’s roads, bridges and transit systems. But every year since 2008, when the shortfalls started, lawmakers have punted on higher taxes. Instead, they’ve transferring ever larger amounts of general revenues into the Highway Trust Fund to keep it running.
As of last year, Congress had poured $143 billion into the fund’s depleted coffers since the shortfalls began.