House bill would increase fuel taxes to pay for transportation

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 2/4/2015

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and 23 cosponsors have filed a bill that would increase federal taxes on gasoline and diesel by 15 cents per gallon to pay for transportation and infrastructure. Earlier this week, President Obama announced a six-year proposal that promotes tax reforms, not fuel taxes, to pay for transportation.

Blumenauer filed HR680, dubbed the UPDATE Act, on Tuesday, Feb. 3, and it is similar to a bill he filed in the previous Congress. In the lead-up to introducing the bill, Blumenauer said it would increase the tax on gasoline from the current 18.4 cents per gallon to 33.4 cents per gallon, and increase the current 24.4-cent diesel tax to 39.4 cents.

HR680 was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Blumenauer announced his intentions for the UPDATE Act in December 2014, reciting parts of a 1982 speech by former President Ronald Reagan about the need to increase fuel taxes to pay for transportation.

There is currently no Senate companion bill to HR680, but Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., stood with Blumenauer in December to promote the concept.

Carper released a statement on Monday, Feb. 2, saying he was in favor of “restoring the purchasing power of the federal gas tax to create a permanent funding source to pay for this investment for decades to come.”

A previous plan by Carper called for a 12-cent increase in fuel taxes, which would also index future increases to the rate of inflation.

Also on Monday, President Obama rolled out the White House budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Transportation and other federal agencies. His plan calls for $478 billion to be spent on transportation over the next six years.

Funding, he said, would come from a tax-reform package that would allow American companies to return offshore earnings to the U.S. at a lower corporate tax rate and invest some of it in transportation. Bringing offshore earnings back to the domestic economy is known as repatriation.

U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., already introduced a repatriation bill, HR413, Partnership to Build America Act of 2015, on Jan. 20. It has 34 co-sponsors.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., met with Delaney in late January to discuss repatriation and is reportedly working on a Senate version.

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Lawmakers channel Reagan to promote fuel-tax increase

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