ARTBA Mobilizes Opposition to Gas Tax Suspension

What’s happening: An election-year effort by some U.S. senators to suspend the federal gas tax for the rest of 2022 faces growing opposition, including from other senators. The ARTBA co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC), and the Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM), also have voiced opposition.

Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), each up for re-election in November, introduced S. 3609, the Gas Prices Relief Act. The Senate Democratic caucus is split on whether to support the effort, and some Republican senators have spoken against the proposal. Nevertheless, U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.) has introduced companion legislation. The Biden administration has not taken a public position on the proposal.

Why it matters: Federal highway and public transportation programs are funded primarily with taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, a “user pays” system to support construction and maintenance. The tax hasn’t been raised since 1993. “Suspending the federal gasoline tax in the name of ‘economic relief’ is misguided and could undermine the recently enacted and bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA),” the TCC/ATM say in a joint Feb. 17 letter to every congressional office.

Voices of Opposition
“Democrats want to blow a $20 billion hole in highway funding so they can try to mask the effects of their own liberal policies on working Americans.”Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

“Suspending the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax is not going to give consumers significant relief—if any at all. But suspending the tax will blow a $26 billion hole in the Highway Trust Fund this year and cause further delay in rebuilding our decrepit infrastructure and the tens of thousands of jobs that investment would have provided.” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.)

“People want their bridges and their roads, and we have an infrastructure bill we just passed this summer, and they want to take that all away.”Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)