U.S. Chamber’s Mortimer Interviewed on ‘Capitol Agenda’ About Trump Gas Tax Comment

This piece was originally published by Transport Topics

Capitol Agenda for the Week of May 2: The President’s Gas Tax

WATCH Ed Mortimer’s interview with Eugene Mulero of Transport Topics

Executives from trucking companies who frequently come to Washington to urge lawmakers to fund infrastructure projects say raising federal fuel taxes is the best approach. Their argument is simple: Paying more at the pump would be easier than tracking the miles on trucks and cars or paying more on tolls.

The revenue is desperately needed to fund maintenance projects along congested freight corridors, such as interstates 81, 95 and 10, to name a few. And the trucking industry is not alone on this.

For years, the roadbuilders, unions, engineers, and the business community have agreed increasing fuel taxes is the ideal source of revenue for infrastructure spending. The groups point to laboratories of democracy, such as Indiana, Tennessee and New Jersey, which recently raised their fuel taxes. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s director of transportation, Ed Mortimer, stressed the point before a Senate panel this year: “It comes down to political courage.”

“I know some members here have signed a pledge saying they didn’t want to raise revenue for anything. I think our belief is everyone needs to come into Congress as elected officials with an open mind and we need to look at this,” Mortimer added, referring to Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge.

The federal taxes, unchanged since 1993, stand at 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel and 18.4 cents for gasoline. Improved fuel economy in recent years has cut into the necessary revenue to ensure the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.

President Donald Trump mentioned the gas tax during an interview with Bloomberg News, suggesting he would consider an increase. Press Secretary Sean Spicer quickly clarified Trump did not express support for it because “he was just relaying what another industry group had shared with him.” At least, for a few moments, it seemed the White House was backing the increase.

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