Congress should raise the federal gasoline tax to help repair the nation's deteriorating highway and bridge systems, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said Monday.
"Twenty years. It's been 20 years since we had an increase in the federal fuel tax," Donohue said Monday at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters in Washington. "What kind of car were you driving 20 years ago?"
The gas tax was last raised in 1993
to $.18 per gallon, CNN Money reported.
Donohue's comments echoed an appeal he made in February before the House Transportation Committee
. The Chamber of Commerce, one of the most influential business lobbying interests on Capitol Hill, supported "reasonable increases" that are "phased in and indexed to inflation" to help shore up and improve the nation's infrastructure, he said at the time.
He argued that keeping highways and other infrastructure in working order made good economic sense for the entire country because it would improve production and efficiency while lowering costs.
A study released in June by Transportation for America
found that one in nine bridges is structurally deficient. But the two-year transportation bill known as MAP-21, which was passed in 2012, eliminated designated funds for bridge repair and provided funding only for bridges that are part of the National Highway System.
According to CNN, a gas-tax increase has the support of both big business groups and big labor unions, but not of most Americans. According to a Gallup poll
in April, 66 percent of Americans oppose an increase.
Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also has pushed for an increase in the gas tax.
Speaking at a conference at George Mason University Oct. 16, LaHood suggested using a gas-tax increase
to help states and cities fund rail and streetcar systems and bike sharing programs for local commuters.
"I believe Congress ought to raise the gas tax 10 cents a gallon and index it," LaHood said. "If the gas tax had been indexed in 1993, we wouldn't be having this debate."
He said Congress should consider a vehicle-miles-traveled tax, public-private partnerships, and more toll roads to help repair and improve the nation's transportation system.
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