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Biden Objects to Raising Gas Tax       06/19 08:33


   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House made clear Friday that President Joe 
Biden was opposed to letting the federal gasoline tax rise at the rate of 
inflation to help pay for an infrastructure package that a bipartisan group of 
21 senators is trying to craft.

   The gas tax increase was part of an early package that called for $579 
billion in new spending on roads, bridges, rail and public transit. It's 
unclear if it will make the final cut and the White House seems intent on 
making sure it doesn't.

   "The President has been clear throughout these negotiations: He is adamantly 
opposed to raising taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year," White 
House spokesman Andrew Bates said. "After the extraordinarily hard times that 
ordinary Americans endured in 2020 -- job losses, shrinking incomes, squeezed 
budgets -- he is simply not going to allow Congress to raise taxes on those who 
suffered the most."

   The federal gas tax stands at 18.4 cents a gallon and has not increased 
since 1993. It helps pay for highways and mass transit programs around the 
country. Congress has traditionally relied on the user-pay principle to pay for 
road and bridge work, but is increasingly relying on general funds to 
accomplish that task. Lawmakers from both parties are wary of attack ads 
accusing them of supporting a hike in gas prices.

   Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance 
Committee, said that indexing the gas tax to inflation was a nonstarter for him.

   "It's another hit on working people," Wyden said.

   Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said a gas tax hike is a "Republican thing."

   "Democrats want to fund this by taxing people (earning) $400,000," Brown 

   The White House is expecting to hear from the senators crafting the 
infrastructure package on Monday. It is scaled back from Biden's proposal, but 
Democrats are preparing to move other parts of Biden's agenda in separate 
legislation that they could pass using a tool that requires only a simple 
majority for approval.

   The bipartisan plan offers about $579 billion in new spending, including 
$110 billion on roads and highways, $66 billion on passenger and freight rail 
and $48 billion on public transit. An additional $47 billion would go toward 
efforts to fight climate change and there is money for electric vehicle 
charging stations.

   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., described the infrastructure 
bill being negotiated a good start, but most Democrats don't believe it does 
enough on climate or on the amount of revenue raises, and doesn't address 
priorities like paid family leave. So they will proceed on two tracks that 
include a reconciliation package going beyond what's in the infrastructure bill.

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