July 13, 2017 1:15 PM, EDT

Repatriation to Fund Infrastructure ‘Has Some Potential’

Stephen J. Boitano/Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — Repatriating overseas profits as a way to fund big-ticket infrastructure projects around the country is a proposal Republican leaders may consider this year, a senior Democratic senator told reporters July 13.

“My own judgment, I think, there is more Republican interest in repatriation,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member on the tax-writing Finance Committee, said at an event hosted by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. “I think this idea has some potential.”

Repatriating overseas profits with a low one-time tax to help fund infrastructure projects has been endorsed in recent years by Republican leaders, as well as prominent Democrats on Capitol Hill. The Trump administration has not promoted it as part of its 10-year, $1 trillion infrastructure funding outline.

Wyden expressed hope in the Senate reaching a compromise soon on health care policy in order to give lawmakers a forum for taking up measures aimed at overhauling the U.S. tax code, and ensuring funding for infrastructure projects. So far, the only meaningful work the chamber has accomplished was to confirmed a justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Asked if he thought a GOP-led tax reform measure would address the Highway Trust Fund’s looming shortfall, the Oregon Democrat noted the Republican leadership in the House and Senate will “tell you they’re not going to raise the gas tax.”

This year, ARTBA led a coalition of stakeholders who called on members of Congress to restore the trust fund’s long-term funding. That resulted in nearly 260 House members urging the leaders of the tax-writing Ways and Means panel to include a fix for the trust fund in a tax reform bill.

The freight industry champions increasing fuel taxes to assist states with maintenance and upgrades of critical corridors. The fund relies on revenue from taxes on gas and diesel and is projected to be insolvent in a few years. Federal inaction on fuel taxes since 1993 has prompted nearly two dozen states to increase diesel and gas taxes to pay for road projects.