Old tax, new tricks? — As gas prices continue to drop and the Highway Trust Fund cliff quickly approaches, an old idea is getting some new attention: raising the gas tax. Several influential Senate Republicans have expressed a tepid openness to a gas tax hike, not outright supporting an increase but not taking it off the table either. On the Democratic side, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin took it a step further Wednesday, saying it’s time to act. “Now’s the time do it. But we ought to do it in a thoughtful way,” Durbin said, adding that the regressive nature of the gas tax must be confronted to shield lower- and middle-income drivers. – Heather Caygle in Politico – January 8, 2015
IN THE NEWS — Articles From Around the Country
Barbara Boxer: Won’t run again in 2016 — Longtime California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer will not run for reelection in 2016, she announced Thursday. Her decision means the loss of a major Democratic power player in the Senate, especially on the issue of the environment, and sets up what’s likely to be an intense race to replace her. Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kin in Politico – January 8, 2015
Boxer to GOP: Focus on highway bill, not Keystone – Newly-installed Republican leaders in the Senate should focus on approving a new transportation funding bill instead of pushing for passage of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said Wednesday. – Keith Laing in The Hill – January 7, 2015
Can a new Congress bail out transportation in five months? – As the smoke cleared on a new political reality last week, transportation was a bit of an afterthought in the “what will the election mean for” discussion, which focused mostly on immigration, health care, trade agreements and tax reform. Roads, bridges and transit got a fleeting nod as “infrastructure,” the more elegant-sounding category to which they belong. – Ashley Halsey III in The Washington Post – November 10, 2014
House rejects Senate highway bill – The House on Thursday shot down legislation from the Senate that would have extended federal transportation funding until December. The 272-150 vote puts pressure on Senate Democrats to accept the House-passed transportation bill, which would provide funding until next spring and avert a late summer shutdown of construction projects. – Keith Laing in The Hill – July 31, 2014
Now is the Perfect Time to Raise Gas Taxes – The House on Thursday shot down legislation from the Senate that would have extended federal transportation funding until December. The 272-150 vote puts pressure on Senate Democrats to accept the House-passed transportation bill, which would provide funding until next spring and avert a late summer shutdown of construction projects. – Howard Gleckman in Forbes – November 11, 2014
July 30, 2014 (The Hill) – WASHINGTON – President Obama pushed lawmakers on Wednesday to finish working on a bill to extend federal transportation funding before they leave Washington for the August recess. Lawmakers spent much of Wednesday squabbling over competing versions of a short-term extension that would prevent road and transit funding from drying up next month. Read the full story.
July 29, 2014 (Politico) – WASHINGTON – The Senate has passed a bill to rescue highway and transit funding that House Speaker John Boehner says he won’t accept, keeping the specter of a “highway cliff” alive with just days before Congress is set to leave for its August recess. Read the full story.
July 22, 2014 (The Hill) – WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he plans to hold a vote on the $10.9 billion House measure extending transportation funding until the spring as early as Wednesday. Read the full story.