Despite Senate Majority Whip's skepticism on infrastructure bill this year, others not giving up

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 2/28/2018

The wait for an infrastructure bill may extend to next year. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, recently suggested that an infrastructure bill may not pass this year. However, other Congress members are more optimistic.

Sen. Cornyn told Bloomberg this week that he was a bit skeptical of reaching an infrastructure deal anytime soon.

“I think it will be challenging,” Cornyn said. “I certainly would be happy if we could, but we’ve got a lot of things to do, that being one of them, and I don’t know if we will have time to get to that.”

This may not sit well with voters come November when midterm elections will be held. A poll sponsored by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers shows that 81 percent of State of the Union viewers said it is important to them that Congress passes an infrastructure bill this year.

Another survey conducted by Long Island University Hornstein Center for Policy, Polling and Analysis reveals that nearly 72 percent of Americans believe more investment in infrastructure is needed. Despite President Trump’s plan that puts the burden of funding on state/local governments and public-private partnerships, 40 percent believe the federal government is primarily responsible for funding infrastructure projects. Only 32 percent believe states are responsible.

Some lawmakers are not so sure about Cornyn’s skepticism. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., provided Land Line with the following statement:

“Any time you work on a big, bipartisan bill it will be challenging, but you can’t write it off because of that. When we did the FAST Act, they predicted we had no chance of success but we were able to pass the largest highway bill in a decade. No one thought we’d get a WRDA bill done in 2016 either, but it was the last bill of the 114th Congress. There is a bipartisan desire to get infrastructure done, and we’ve started the work to do it.”

Inhofe pointed out that the Environment and Public Works Committee has already held three hearings and a full committee hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Additionally, the Senate Commerce Committee will conduct a full committee hearing next week.

Meanwhile, the debate on how infrastructure will be funded rages on. Although the idea of increasing the fuel tax remains floating in the air, opponents continue to fight against it.

Freedom Partners and Americans for Prosperity, both funded by the Koch brothers, recently released a state-by-state report detailing the negative impacts of a fuel tax. The report claims that the new tax burden of a 25-cent increase on the average household will range from $200 to nearly $400, negating the money saved through the recently passed tax reform.

However, many states are considering their own fuel tax increase as the infrastructure funding well dries up. At the start of the year, a fuel tax increase went into effect in six states.

When it comes to public opinion, Americans are evenly split on the idea of a fuel tax increase. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association believes the fuel tax is the most equitable way to generate revenue.


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