Despite President Joe Biden's supposed "red line" on raising taxes for those making less than $400,000, the draft infrastructure bill in the Senate includes a "national motor vehicle per-mile user fee pilot" program.
If that remained in the bill, it would take future legislation in order for Biden to keep his promise not to raise taxes on lower-income Americans, the Washington Examiner reported.
White House officials had been adamant Biden will not support a gas tax or user fees like the mileage pilot program, but section 13002 of the 2,702-page initial draft of the bill does leave lower-income Americans vulnerable down the road on personal vehicle usage by mile, according to the report.
"There is literally nothing in the bill that is counter to the president's pledge," a White House official told the Examiner. "This refers to two provisions about research. One gives grants to states if they want to apply to do their own research. The second involves a federal pilot program based on individual volunteers, who receive full refunds, for studies that would then only be the basis for recommendations about future legislation.
"The administration will evaluate all legislation, including any bills relevant to these pilot programs, against the $400,000 pledge."
The pilot program, funded through 2026 in the draft of the bill, directs Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to give recommendations to Congress three years in, leaving it up to Congress to pass new legislation implementing national per-mile fees fully as an funding source for infrastructure improvements, the Examiner reported.
The transportation and treasury secretaries are assigned to "establish, on an annual basis, per-mile user fees for passenger motor vehicles, light trucks, and medium- and heavy-duty trucks, which amount may vary between vehicle types and weight classes to reflect estimated impacts on infrastructure, safety, congestion, the environment, or other related social impacts," according to the draft legislation.
The pilot program was first introduced by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., in their version of infrastructure proposed in March, but this pilot program made it into the draft officially under debate now in the Senate.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki had said June 26, "any tax on vehicle mileage" violates Biden's $400,000 red line, the Examiner noted.
"Well, first, let me say that, you know, the president's pledge was not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 a year," Psaki told reporters. "The proposed gas tax or vehicle mileage tax would do exactly that, so that is a nonstarter for him. I'd also note, for the mathematicians in the room: That only raises $40 billion, which is a fraction of what this proposal would cost."
She added on July 6, according to the Examiner: "One of the core reasons why the president was opposed — vehemently opposed — to a gas tax and any tax on vehicle mileage" was "because he felt that would fall on the backs of Americans, and that was a bottom line, red line for him."
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.