Legislation Before Congress Would Tie Federal Gas Tax to Inflation

A group of bipartisan representatives have come together to introduce legislation to replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund. The legislation H.R. 1846, the Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act, would tie the gas tax to inflation and create a bipartisan, bicameral Transportation Commission to provide long-term funding of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF).

As reported by Better Roads,

The bill would index gas and diesel user fees to inflation, which officials expect would raise $27.5 billion for 1.7 years. Following this, the act provides for the creation of a Transportation Commission by September 1, 2015, whose function would be to determine “a path forward for sustainable funding, and would be advised to consider all options,” according to a statement on the bill.

It would require Congress to “enact the recommendations of the commission, or any other funding mechanism that achieves at least three years of funding for the Highway Trust Fund” by a December 31, 2016 deadline. Missing the deadline would result in gas and diesel user fees to increase “to a level that would sustain the trust fund for a three-year period.”

Again, if no funding solution is achieved in that three-year period, the user fees would go up to fund five more years of the HTF. Adding these periods of time together, the bill’s sponsors believe 10 years of HTF funding will be provided.

Congressional transportation authorization expired in 2009.  Since that time, Congress has passed a number of short-term measures to continue funding the trust fund. An $11 billion proposal approved in 2014 is set to expire on May 31, 2015. If Congress does not act by that date, no funds will be available for transportation projects.