During the first two weeks of the new 114th Congress, there has been an unprecedented level of public commentary about a potential federal motor fuels tax increase. Editorials from the Washington Post and New York Times have endorsed an increase, while the Wall Street Journal has called for abolishment of the federal gas tax completely. Congressional leaders like Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Senate Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and the Obama Administration have all said they are open to considering a gas tax increase as a means to stabilize federal surface transportation investment. At the same time, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have said they didn’t think Congress would pass a gas tax increase.
As is often the case in situations like these where divergent perspectives exist, truth is in the eye of the beholder—at least at this premature stage. What is clear, however, is that the long overdue national discussion about how—or whether—to fund federal highway, bridge and public transportation investments is now underway. As such, it is critical that your members of Congress are hearing from you, your employees and business partners about the importance of enacting a long-term Highway Trust Fund (HTF) fix. You can bet the anti-gas tax crowd is making their voice heard and—unlike the transportation construction industry—most of these ideologues are engaged in this discussion primarily to raise money and get attention for their groups.
There are a number of ways to get engaged. You can use the ARTBA Toll Free Action Hotline to connect with your member of Congress’ Washington office by dialing 1-888-448-2782, or visit ARTBA’s online Grassroots Action Center to send an email. ARTBA’s TransCon mobile app can also help you voice your concerns. It provides access to the Hotline, as well as up-to-date talking points on the HTF issue. The app is available for free in Apple’s App Store and GooglePlay.