Dem lawmaker calls for gas tax increase to help pay for infrastructure package

Rep. Chris PappasChristopher (Chris) Charles PappasThe Hill's Morning Report - US coastline readies for Hurricane Dorian to make landfall Swing-seat Democrats oppose impeachment, handing Pelosi leverage Second Democrat representing Trump district backs impeachment MORE (D-N.H.), who serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is calling for a plan that would tax drivers based on how many miles their vehicles travel, saying it could help pay for a proposed bipartisan infrastructure package.

"I think longer term — in terms of funding our roads and bridges, we all agree that vehicle miles travel is a great way to look for revenue, we’re all driving more fuel-efficient vehicles and so the gas tax has less and less purchasing power," Pappas told Hill.TV, noting that a similar plan has already been put forth by House Transportation Committee ranking member Rep. Sam GravesSamuel (Sam) Bruce GravesTrump administration to repeal waterway protections Republicans spend more than million at Trump properties Acting FAA chief defends agency's Boeing 737 Max safety certification MORE (R-Mo.). 

“I think that’s one place we can look,” he added.

The freshman Democrat suggested that some voters might even favor such an increase, citing previous state-level support for gas taxes. 

“Voters across the country in particular states have supported an increase when they can actually see projects getting done around them, when they see shorter commutes,” he said.

Several states, including California and South Carolina, have increased gas taxes over the last few years to raise funds to support infrastructure maintenance and upgrades.

In other states, like Michigan, hiking gas taxes to fix roads and bridges has received some pushback from state lawmakers.

Pappas’s comments come after Democratic leaders and President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE reached a major deal to move forward on a $2 trillion infrastructure package, despite rising tensions over congressional investigations into the White House.

Both House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiProgressives call for impeachment inquiry after reported Kavanaugh allegations The promise and peril of offshoring prescription drug pricing Words matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall Pelosi: 'People are dying' because McConnell won't bring up gun legislation MORE (D-N.Y.) expressed optimism following Monday's meeting.

“It was a very constructive meeting,” Schumer told reporters. “It’s clear that both the White House and all of us want to get something done on infrastructure in a big and bold way.”

But lawmakers will have find a way to foot the bill. Trump and Democratic leaders are expected to meet again in three weeks to discuss funding for the ambitious new plan.

Schumer said he would not support raising the gas tax unless Republicans consider allocating funds for the plan by reducing the 2017 tax overhaul, something which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already declared would be a “non-starter.”

Pappas acknowledged the challenge ahead, but expressed hope.

“I think it’s an important start and we’ve got critical work to do on the committee — the devil’s going to be in the details of how we can actually stitch together a package that’s going to work, that’s going to take care of this country’s needs,” he said.

—Tess Bonn