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Key Senators Agree They Will Work Together to Pass an Infrastructure Package

 

On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing on “Addressing America’s Surface Transportation Infrastructure Needs.” Witnesses before the hearing were: Carlos Braceras, president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation; Robert Lanham, vice president of the Associated General Contractors of America; and James Corless, executive director of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. The focus of the hearing was on financing, and overall, witnesses called for a gasoline tax increase that keeps up with inflation. The witnesses also argued that the federal government should press states to create road usage-based fee systems, with some also calling for commercialization of rest stops, which PMAA will continue to strongly oppose.

During the hearing, EPW Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) said that “New funding is needed to keep pace with demands, and burdensome federal regulations have slowed efforts to spend money efficiently. “The time has come to cut red tape and to make significant investments in our roads and bridges -- investments necessary to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent.” Further, that using the existing highway and transit formula program approach to distribution would ensure both rural and urban states participate in the initiative.

The last week of November, Roger Wicker (R-MS), the incoming Senate Commerce Committee Chairman, said that he would consider raising the federal gas tax if President Trump endorses the increase. Wicker is waiting for the President to announce the funding direction that he’d like to see for the infrastructure package. The President is expected to make an announcement soon.

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