Pelosi rejects gas tax to cover infrastructure costs

Pelosi rejects gas tax to cover infrastructure costs
© Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Democrats get to the hard part Biden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week Stefanik in ad says Democrats want 'permanent election insurrection' MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she opposes an increase in the gas tax as a way to pay for new infrastructure projects, joining other liberals in her caucus in rejecting a potential provision of a nascent public works package being negotiated in the Senate.  

"I'm not even sure if it's in, but one thing they were going to do was expand the gas tax. I would not be for that," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. 

Among the offset provisions floated by a group of bipartisan senators scrambling for an infrastructure agreement is an increase in the gas tax, which was last raised in 1993. The law that did so did not provide automatic inflationary increases.  

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A gas tax hike carries some enticements for liberal Democrats, encouraging car manufacturers to prioritize more fuel efficient vehicles while discouraging driving overall, which could help curb greenhouse emissions that exacerbate global warming.

Yet the gas tax is also regressive, hitting low- and middle-income drivers the hardest, and liberals in the current infrastructure fight have roundly rejected the notion of raising it to help cover new spending on public works projects.

Pelosi echoed their concerns Thursday.

"I don't think that ... America's working families should be footing the bill for roads and bridges and the rest that America's wealthiest people and their businesses are using without paying for them," she said. "So I'm not in for expanding the gas tax."

Pelosi also rejected the idea of shifting funding from the Democrats' latest coronavirus relief package, a $1.9 trillion law signed by President BidenJoe BidenTrump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race On The Money: Democrats get to the hard part Health Care — GOP attorneys general warn of legal battle over Biden's vaccine mandate MORE in March. Republicans have been clamoring to tap unspent funds from that aid bill to cover the cost of new infrastructure projects. Pelosi defended that emergency spending on unemployment and other safety net programs, saying "it's there for a purpose."