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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Bill would tie gas tax to inflation to fund transportation infrastructure


A bipartisan group of U.S. House members has introduced a bill to bolster the federal Highway Trust Fund by tying the federal gas and diesel tax to inflation.

The proposed Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act would ensure the solvency of the trust fund, which is scheduled to run out of money in less than 50 days, for no less than 10 years, the lawmakers said in a press release issued late last week.

To bolster the trust fund in the near term, the bill would index the gas and diesel tax to inflation, which would raise about $27.5 billion and provide funding for transportation infrastructure for 1.7 years. For the long term, the bill would create a bipartisan, bicameral Transportation Commission no later than Sept. 1. The group would be charged with determining a path forward for sustainable funding, and would be advised to consider all options.

Congress would be required to enact the commission's recommendations, or any other funding mechanism that achieves at least three years of funding for the Highway Trust Fund, by Dec. 31, 2016. If Congress fails to achieve at least three years of funding by that date, the gas and diesel tax will increase to a level that would sustain the fund for the next three years.

If Congress fails to implement long-term funding solutions, the tax would increase to meet the next five-year Highway Trust Fund shortfall, guaranteeing 10 years of funding, the lawmakers said.

"The longer we wait to fix our crumbling infrastructure, the more it will cost in the long-run. We need to act now to fix the broken system," they said. "It is our sincere hope that our colleagues on both sides of the aisle will support this important legislation so that the burden of our failing infrastructure isn’t passed on to the next generation.”

Lawmakers who introduced the bill, H.R. 1846, were U.S. Reps. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.).

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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