May 17, 2017 11:00 PM, EDT

House Transportation Panel Will Take Up Infrastructure Bill This Year, Chairman Says

Shuster by Eugene Mulero/Transport Topics

WASHINGTON — A long-term infrastructure funding bill will be considered by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the panel’s chairman told Transport Topics on May 17.

The timing of the committee’s consideration will be determined by when the White House unveils an outline for infrastructure funding. Once that happens, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), the committee’s leader, said his colleagues will begin to “put some meat on the bone” with regards to the legislation. That would be sometime this year, he said.

Echoing his Senate counterparts and the transportation secretary this week, Shuster emphasized he intends to consider every funding option for the country’s infrastructure network, which would include approving an increase in the fuel tax.

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“I agree with the president. I agree with Sen. [James] Inhofe. Everything needs to be on the table, but we got to figure out how to fund this,” Shuster said, after a keynote address to members of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. “I stand on: Everything needs to be on the table. And if there’s a deal to be made, I’m willing to look at anything.”

Prior to Shuster’s speech, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told the group his panel would craft its version of a long-term infrastructure funding plan while it awaits the administration’s plan.

Earlier in the day, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told Barrasso’s committee the White House would unveil an outline about the plan later this month, followed by a legislative package in the fall.

President Trump pledged to deliver a $1 trillion, 10-year plan that would invest in infrastructure projects. The trucking industry has called on the White House and Congress to approve an increase in fuel taxes. The federal 24.4 cents-per-gallon diesel tax and 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax have not been raised in more than two decades. Meanwhile, states such as Tennessee and Indiana have raised their fuel taxes.