Falling oil prices give Congress a great opportunity to hike the gas tax, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday.
But the Democratic leader also cautioned that her party won’t trade the store in return for the gas-tax increase being floated by some Republicans.
“I can’t respond to their proposal because I don’t know what it is,” Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol. “But I do think that if there’s ever going to be an opportunity to raise the gas tax, the time when gas prices are so low — oil prices are so low — is the time to do it.”
At 18.4 cents per gallon, the current gas tax hasn’t changed since 1993, and many environmental and infrastructure advocates are urging an increase to help eliminate annual deficits plaguing the Highway Transportation Fund. That fund is filled primarily by the gas tax, but the combination of rising infrastructure costs and more fuel efficient vehicles has created a shortfall that reached $16 billion last year.
In the upper chamber, Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) are pushing legislation to increase the levy by 12 cents over the next two years. And both Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and James Inhofe (R-Okla.), head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said they remain open to the idea.