Shuster File photo
Rep. Bill Shuster announced in January he will not seek reelection.

Shuster tries to kick-start highway funding debate, calls for hike in fuel

The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is calling for an increase in federal fuel taxes, as well as pilot programs to test future funding methods.

A draft proposal from Rep. Bill Shuster, who announced in January he will not see reelection, calls for a temporary hike of the federal diesel tax by 20 cents a gallon and gasoline tax by 15 cents.

Over the next decade, a commission would create a new system of fees that would replace the fuel taxes, which have not been raised since 1993.

Shuster said the plan “serves as a framework and a new starting point for Congress to begin to seriously address, in a fiscally responsible and bipartisan manner, how we are going to provide the nation with the 21st century infrastructure it needs and deserves.”

In response to the plan, a group of 50 bipartisan congressmen wrote a letter to Shuster and ranking member Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) calling for a pilot program that would permit trucks with six axles weighing up to 91,000 lbs. on the interstate highway system in certain states.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Highway Trust Fund will insolvent as soon as the fall of 2020 and will see a shortfall of more than $160 billion by 2028.

Shuster previously played a critical role in instituting the FAST Act highway funding law, as well as the prior one, known as Map-21. He is the son of former Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.), who chaired the same transportation committee from 1995 to 2001.

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