March 9, 2017 - Issue: Vol. 163, No. 41 — Daily Edition115th Congress (2017 - 2018) - 1st Session
INTRODUCTION OF THE RAISE IT ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 41
(Extensions of Remarks - March 09, 2017)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Pages E301-E302] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] INTRODUCTION OF THE RAISE IT ACT ______ HON. EARL BLUMENAUER of oregon in the house of representatives Thursday, March 9, 2017 Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, America is literally falling apart and falling behind. Every day, we see new stories of deficient bridges, ballooning maintenance backlogs for aging transit systems, urban areas choking on congestion, or rising roadway fatalities. Earlier today, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America's infrastructure an overall grade of D+, unchanged from 2013. Roads received a D, while transit came in at a D-. There is universal agreement that we must address these growing infrastructure challenges. The only question is how to pay for it. That's why I'm introducing the Raise And [[Page E302]] Index to Sustainably and Efficiently Invest In Transportation (RAISE IT) Act. The federal gas tax, unchanged since 1993, has lost more than 40 percent of its purchasing power due to inflation and rising fuel efficiency. Stuck at 18.4 cents a gallon for 24 years, the gas tax has led to more than a decade of uncertainty in the federal transportation program, a perennially insolvent Highway Trust Fund, and more than $140 billion borrowed from the general Treasury fund to maintain current, inadequate surface transportation funding levels. The Highway Trust Fund will run a $15 billion deficit this year and will be bankrupt by 2021. Raising the gas tax, supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders from the AFL-CIO to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AAA, truckers, and transit, would fix the Highway Trust Fund and provide certainty to commuters, businesses, and local governments that count on a strong, continuing federal partnership. The RAISE IT Act would index the federal gas and diesel taxes to inflation and phase in a 15 cent a gallon increase over three years, generating $210 billion over the next ten years. Congress should follow the lead of the eight Republican-led states that raised gas taxes in the last two years. Countless editorial boards, transportation and economic policy experts, and blue ribbon panels like Simpson-Bowles Commission, all call for an increase in the federal gas tax. In the words of President Reagan, who more than doubled the gas tax in 1983, ``the cost to average motorist will be small, but the benefit to our transportation system will be immense.'' ____________________