February 26, 2014 3:00 PM, EST

Boxer Calls for April Highway Bill Markup; Doubts Increase in Fuel Taxes

WASHINGTON — The Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee will begin markup of a multiyear highway-funding plan in April, and the legislation probably will not include increases in fuel tax rates, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), EPW’s chairman, told a group of state transportation officials.

Boxer told members of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials on Feb. 26 that the Highway Trust Fund, begun in 1956 under President Dwight Eisenhower, “is threatened with extinction,” but that must not be allowed to happen.

The four-term senator said she has begun work on reauthorization with Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, her committee’s ranking Republican, and with her counterpart in the House, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.). The legislation is designed to replace the MAP-21 act that expires Sept. 30.

Boxer said she would like to see a five- or six-year plan completed by June because she does not want funding to “lurch from year to year.” She said she sees little to no support for diesel and gasoline tax increases among her colleagues. Funding for her spending plan will be constructed by Congress’ two tax-writing committees — the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee — not EPW, she said.

Asked about President Obama’s plan to fund transportation infrastructure with new revenue from reforming corporate taxes, Boxer characterized the proposal as “exciting and visionary,” but also said she doubts it will pass through both houses of Congress.