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Congressional infrastructure chair says infrastructure bill ready ‘closer to summer’

News | February 17, 2018 | By:

On Feb. 15, 2018, U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., told The Hill’s Mallory Shelbourne that an infrastructure bill could be ready “closer to the summer,” perhaps by July. Shuster said he is working with the committee’s Ranking Member Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., to draft a bill. The chairman also said that he and DeFazio attended a bipartisan meeting at the White House to discuss infrastructure.

Shuster is responding to the release, on Feb. 12, 2018, of President Donald J. Trump’s “Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America,” which outlines the president’s priorities regarding infrastructure and urges Congress to pass an infrastructure bill that will “stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in new investment over the next 10 years, shorten the process for approving projects to 2 years or less, address unmet rural infrastructure needs, empower state and local authorities, and train the American workforce of the future.”

Funding for infrastructure improvements are a concern for both Republicans and Democrats. Shuster told The Hill that President Trump is “open” to an increase in the gas tax, one possible way to help fund the infrastructure legislation.

“It is a user fee,” The Hill reported Shuster saying of the gas tax. “It’s not deficit spending. Today, we’re deficit spending on this stuff.”

The current 18.4-cent federal gas tax goes into the Highway Trust Fund, but that revenue is not enough to cover the proposed investment in infrastructure. According to the Federal Highway Administration, Congress has not raised the gas tax since 1993, although The Hill reported raising the gas tax is unpopular with many Republicans in Congress, while many industry groups support an increase.

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