Proposal to increase heavy-use taxes on trucks dead on arrival

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Thursday, June 26, 2014

Almost as quickly as it was proposed, a measure by the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee to increase heavy-use taxes on trucks to prop up the Highway Trust Fund appeared dead on Thursday, June 26.

Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., struck the truck tax increase from his $9 billion proposal at the urging of Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and John Thune, R-S.D., sources on Capitol Hill said.

Wyden issued a revised list keeping the trust fund afloat while Congress works on a long-term highway bill. The committee was scheduled to mark up the proposal on Thursday but voted instead to hold off on the markup until after the July 4 recess.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Highway Trust Fund needs at least an $8 billion boost to last through the end of December and keep road and bridge projects from coming to a screeching halt.

Beyond December, the trust fund would need another $10 billion to last through May 2015.

Answering a question from Senate Finance Committee leadership, the CBO says a 6-cent increase in federal gasoline and diesel taxes would generate approximately $4 billion by the end of the year if it were enacted immediately.

Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., have offered a proposal to increase fuel taxes by 6 cents in 2015 and another 6 cents in 2016.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., has offered a similar bill to increase fuel taxes by 12 cents.

The current rate for diesel is 24.3 cents per gallon while the rate for gasoline is currently at 18.3 cents per gallon.

The White House released a statement discouraging a fuel-tax increase, urging lawmakers to throw support behind a proposed tax break for U.S. companies to “repatriate” funds stored in offshore accounts. A portion of the money raised from repatriation would got to transportation under that proposal.

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