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Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus backs gas tax to finance infrastructure spending

Andrew Trunsky, DCNF

The bipartisan House Problem Solvers’ Caucus backed an increase to the gas tax as a means to finance infrastructure spending, according to a report released Friday.

The 58-member caucus proposed indexing the taxes to inflation, freeway construction costs, fuel-economy standards or a combination of the three, according to a document outlining the plan first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The report also floated a vehicle-miles tax for electric cars, since they are exempt from buying gasoline.

The group’s endorsement of a gas tax increase could lend momentum to the measure, which has appeared in neither President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan or Republicans’ counteroffer. The gas tax stands at 18.4 cents a gallon, and has not been raised since 1993.

The report refrains from discussing specific funding levels, according to the Journal, but it does call for federal investments to improve American rail, water infrastructure and broadband.

“We cannot afford four more years of crumbling bridges, roads, and tunnels, lead-filled pipes, and failed transportation, which is why the Problem Solvers Caucus is putting partisanship aside to find a solution that brings both parties to the table,” New Jersey Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, one of the caucus’s co-chairs, told the Journal.

Its release follows Biden’s announcement of his sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure package, which invests in everything from traditional infrastructure to affordable housing, electric vehicles, semiconductors and child care. Republicans on Thursday released their $568 billion counteroffer, a more targeted bill which sticks largely to physical infrastructure.

Instead of a gas tax increase, the White House has instead focused on tax increases for corporations and wealthy Americans, arguing that those will not adversely impact low-income Americans. Republicans and some moderate Democrats, however, have objected to Biden’s proposed corporate tax increase, which would raise the rate from 21% to 28%.

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