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February 27, 2018 12:00 PM, EST

Top Transportation Authorizers Headline Feb. 28 AASHTO Briefing

Rep. Shuster Shuster by Jaclyn O'Laughlin

Two weeks after a meeting with President Donald Trump, in which he is said to have endorsed an increase in fuel taxes, the leaders of the transportation policy committees will address the American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials on Feb. 28.

Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman and ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, as well as House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and ranking Democrat Peter DeFazio of Oregon met with the president at the White House on Feb. 14.

DeFazio

DeFazio

The White House recently unveiled a series of infrastructure funding “principles” that called for using $200 billion in federal funds to achieve $1.5 trillion in investments over 10 years.

After the meeting, Carper told reporters Trump expressed support for a 25 cents per-gallon gas and diesel fuel tax increase.

“While there are a number of issues on which President Trump and I disagree, today, we agreed that things worth having are worth paying for, and the president even offered to help provide the leadership necessary so that we could do something that has proven difficult in the past,” Carper said in a statement obtained by Transport Topics.

Barrasso chimed in soon after, telling Fox Business on Feb. 15, “I don’t like it.” According to the Hill newspaper, Shuster said an infrastructure bill his staff is crafting could be ready by summer.

Senators

Barrasso and Carper

The White House told TT it would not comment on the president’s closed-door meetings.

Groups, such as AASHTO, have called on policymakers to advance a sustainable funding measure that would address highway infrastructure. A funding approach popular with most stakeholders is a fuel tax increase. About half of the states recently adopted that approach.

Since 1993, the gas tax has been 18.4 cents per gallon, and the diesel tax 24.4 cents per gallon. That rate fails to meet the Highway Trust Fund’s demands. The account assists states with maintenance and construction projects.