"For too long, Congress has shied away from taking serious action to update our country's aging infrastructure," Murphy said in a statement. "We're currently facing a transportation crisis that will only get worse if we don't take bold action to fund the Highway Trust Fund."
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, who attempted to increase the gas tax increase in 2010, said he was glad to see the idea "gaining more bipartisan support."
Since 2008, Congress has repeatedly dipped into the general treasury for money to keep the trust fund solvent, sometimes waiting until the government was the verge of slowing down payments to states. States have complained that the uncertainty over whether federal aid will be forthcoming has limited their ability to commit to larger projects that take years to plan and construct.
"Congress should be embarrassed that it has played chicken with the Highway Trust Fund and allowed it to become one of the largest budgeting failures in the federal government," Corker said.
The six expired tax breaks identified by the senators as possible offsets for fuel tax increases are a research and development tax credit, certain expensing by small businesses, the state and local sales tax deduction, increasing employer-provided transit benefits to the same level as parking benefits, a deduction for spending by teachers on classroom supplies, and an increased deduction for land conservation and easement donations.
The anti-tax Club for Growth, which is influential with GOP conservatives, issued a statement opposing the plan. Congress should "devolve highway funding to the states and let them fund their own infrastructure needs," said Chris Chocola, the group's president.
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