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May 29, 2019 1:00 PM, EDT

Rep. Earl Blumenauer Proposes Fuel Tax Increase

Earl Blumenauer Blumenauer speaks in Congress. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a member of the tax policy-writing Ways and Means panel, recently unveiled legislation that would increase federal fuel taxes.

Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is proposing an increase of 5 cents per gallon over five years indexed to inflation. The measure was referred to the tax committee. Its consideration has not been announced, and companion legislation has yet to be introduced in the Senate.

The congressman is one of the few policymakers endorsing a fuel tax increase in the 116th Congress.

“The gas tax was last raised more than 25 years ago, which means we are paying for our 2019 infrastructure needs with 1993 dollars. That is unacceptable,” Blumenauer said May 22. “Our nation’s infrastructure is falling apart as we fall behind our global competitors. The cost of underinvestment falls especially hard on working families and low-income individuals who can’t afford the cost of a blown tire or lost wages due to congestion. It is past time that we get real about funding our infrastructure needs. We can’t afford inaction any longer.”

The 24.4 cents-per-gallon diesel tax and 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax have remained the same since 1993. The dwindling revenue is insufficient to meet the long-term obligations of the Highway Trust Fund, an account used to assist states with maintenance and construction projects.