President Donald Trump told lawmakers he would support a 25-cent increase in the federal gasoline tax to pay for his plan to upgrade U.S. public infrastructure, a congressional aide said.
Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio, the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who was in Trump’s meeting with a dozen Democratic and Republican lawmakers, said the president also told them he would be willing to increase the amount of federal spending beyond the $200 billion he is seeking for the infrastructure program.
Trump previously has said he would consider raising the federal gasoline tax that hasn’t been increased since 1993. Axios reported earlier that Trump endorsed a 25-cent increase in the tax.
A White House official declined to comment on Trump’s discussions in a closed-door meeting but said that all options are on the table to meet the main objectives of the president’s plan.
“The president made a living building things, and he realizes that to build things takes money, takes investment,” DeFazio said.
Pennsylvania Representative Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has encouraged his Republican colleagues to consider raising the gas tax as a way to keep the Highway Trust Fund — which funds road, bridge and transit projects — solvent after 2021. He said there was discussion during the meeting about funding.
“He understands that we’ve got to figure out the funding levels and where the money’s coming from, make sure it’s not smoke and mirrors,” Shuster said of the president.
Trump’s plan seeks to revamp how projects are approved and funded by reducing permitting time to two years and allocating $200 billion over 10 years — mostly as incentives to spur states, localities and the private sector to spend at least $1.3 trillion. The administration released its 53-page plan Monday as a blueprint for Congress to draft legislation.