Chamber of Commerce to call for gas tax hike to pay for infrastructure

Chamber of Commerce to call for gas tax hike to pay for infrastructure
© Greg Nash

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will advocate for a hike to the gas tax to fund plans for a massive infrastructure package, the organization’s president said in a recently published interview.

“I’ve been pushing this for a long, long time, but now gangs of people are pushing it,” Tom Donohue told The Washington Post.

The Chamber, which has for years backed an increase to the federal gas tax, will reportedly press for a 25-cent-per-gallon hike, an effort that comes ahead of the Trump administration’s long-awaited infrastructure plan. The business group will unveil its strategy for the effort this week, the Post said.

“We just got a new tax bill for the first time in 31 years,” Donohue told the newspaper.

“We’re making some significant changes in regulatory reform. We’ve got a president — everybody’s got all their own views about him and what he stands for and all that — but the guy’s getting stuff done ... and he’s a builder. I think we can get some help here."

The Chamber previously campaigned for an increase to the gas tax to fund projects aimed at rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, even partnering with the AFL-CIO in 2011 to press Congress on the subject. In 2015, the Chamber, along with the American Trucking Association and AAA auto club, pushed Congress to up the gas tax in order to finance the Highway Trust Fund.

The renewed push comes as the Trump administration’s infrastructure package may not come until February, despite prior plans to release “detailed legislative principles” on a proposal in January.

The White House last year was contemplating a potential gas hike, a move that is deeply unpopular among Republican lawmakers. 

But a bipartisan group of House lawmakers last week provided a list of detailed policy suggestions for a potential plan to modernize U.S. infrastructure, which includes “an immediate or phased in modernization of the federal gasoline user fee” to fund the Highway Trust Fund. 

The White House said last week that it was “encouraged” by the report, which was released by the congressional Problem Solvers Caucus.

Among other suggestions in the report is for Congress to make the permit procedure more efficient, which Donohue said the Chamber also hopes to achieve.