Rally participants call for higher federal gas tas

WASHINGTON — The Highway Trust Fund is in danger of running out of money this year, threatening road projects across the nation.

Construction workers and others involved in road and bridge building and repairs, including stone suppliers and concrete makers, rallied on Capitol Hill, demanding that Congress fix the fund so that projects can proceed.

But lawmakers are wrestling with ways of propping up the highway trust fund.

“Let’s raise the federal gas tax,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore, told the rally.

Blumenauer and other speakers pointed out that as fuel economy has increased, fewer gas tax dollars have been funneled into the fund. The gas tax was last raised in 1993.

But Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., a key player in the debate, doesn’t expect that will happen.

“I don’t see the Congress ever voting for an increase in the gas tax because anything that looks like a tax, even if it comes out in the states, they’re going to be against,” says Holmes Norton.

Norton is the ranking member on Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Iron worker Bob Migliaccio was among the participants at the rally urging Congress to come up with funding for the Highway Trust Fund.

“It means jobs for members of my union but it also means jobs for a lot of other people, whether union or not,” Migliaccio says.

Norton believes it’s likely Congress will have a temporary fix to highway funding this summer. Then, perhaps, develop a long-term funding plan after the November elections.

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