As prices at the pump sink to their lowest levels in years, some lawmakers hope Congress is primed to increase the politically sensitive U.S. gas tax for the first time in more than two decades.
The U.S. benchmark oil price slipped below $50 per barrel on Monday, its lowest mark in nearly four years, and drivers across the nation will pay less than $2.20 per gallon on average when they fuel up this week.
The plummeting prices have led transportation experts, business lobbyists and lawmakers to insist that the coming months — as they negotiate an extension of the federal infrastructure funding bill — are their best chance in years to increase the 18.4-cent per gallon gas tax that’s used to pay for highways and mass transit.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, is proposing a 12-cent gas tax hike, offset by other tax cuts, that he’s co-sponsored with Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut.
“It’s revenue neutral, but at least it would put our infrastructure on strong footing. And that second component seems to get left out of the conversation most of the time,” he said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”
The Senate’s No. 3 Republican, John Thune of South Dakota, also signaled a willingness to advance Corker’s proposal on the program.
“I don’t think we take anything off the table at this point,” Thune said. “I think it’s important to recognize that we have a problem, an issue that we need a solution for, and we need to look at all the possible ways out there in which we can address the challenge and address the problem.”
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