Sen. Carper Introduces Amendment to Restore Purchasing Power of the Gas Tax for Highway Trust Fund

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), member of the Finance Committee and chairman of the Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, filed an amendment to the Preserving America’s Transit and Highways (PATH) Act. The PATH Act would sustain the Highway Trust Fund through the calendar year, ensuring that the federal government is able to meet its commitments to reimburse states for certain transportation projects. The Senate Finance Committee is set to consider the PATH Act tomorrow, Thursday, June 26 at 10 a.m.

Sen. Carper’s amendment would restore the purchasing power of the gas and diesel taxes to what they were worth in 1993, the last time the federal gas tax was adjusted. Specifically, Sen. Carper’s provision would provide for three annual 4-cent increases in the gas and diesel taxes until the federal gas tax reached 30.3 cents per gallon and the diesel tax reached 36.3 cents per gallon. This is what the gas and diesel taxes would have been worth had they been indexed to inflation in 1993. Because gas and diesel taxes are not indexed to inflation they have lost about a third of their value over the past 21 years. Once the purchasing power of the federal gas and diesel tax was restored, Sen. Carper’s measure would then provide for an automatic annual adjustment of these tax rates based on the Consumer Price Index inflation calculation. All revenue generated by the taxes would be dedicated exclusively to the Highway Trust Fund.

“Multiple bailouts of the Highway Trust Fund have added more than $54 billion to our nation’s debt since 2009,” Sen. Carper said. “That’s why in 2010, former Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and I called for a gradual increase in federal gas and diesel taxes – which have not been adjusted since 1993 – as part of any comprehensive deficit reduction plan. Today, I still believe that re-establishing the purchasing power of the fuel tax is the best policy for funding our federal transportation program. Indexing these taxes to inflation is a common sense way to ensure the value of these transportation user fees does not continue to erode. More importantly, it will allow Congress to move forward with the bipartisan long-term six-year transportation bill that was passed unanimously out of the Environment and Public Works Committee in May.”