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Brown Wants Six-Year Plan to Support Dwindling Federal Road Fund, Open to Raising Gas Tax

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The federal government is running low on cash to fund highway, road and bridge projects this year, and lawmakers in Washington have put together a set of competing fixes to the problem. ideastream’s Nick Castele reports U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown wants a bill that keeps money flowing to projects for years to come.

Monday, June 23, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Many road projects receive money from the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which uses cash gleaned from a nationwide gas tax.

But that tax doesn’t raise enough funds anymore to maintain the country’s highways and bridges. It’s expected to run out not long after the end of August.

In the Senate, Tennessee Republican Bob Corker and Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy want to raise the gas tax by 12 cents a gallon. They say that’ll keep the trust fund in good shape for 10 years. They want to pair that with extending tax breaks.

Another measure, brought by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, would offer a tax deduction as a way to entice businesses to bring overseas profits back to the U.S., the New York Times reports. The revenues raised by taxing those profits would go toward the trust fund.

Brown said he wants a plan that keeps road maintenance funded for at least six years.

“Gas tax is one of the ways," he said, "looking at other kinds of highway funding issues, and beginning to close these loopholes" that he says businesses enjoy when moving their operations -- including overseas. Montana Democrat John Walsh is also proposing raising highway money by ending the deduction.

Republicans have their own ideas. In the House, there’s a proposal to end Saturday postal delivery and use the savings to fund projects. Roll Call reports some conservatives support reducing the gas tax over time, and letting states decide if they want to raise their own.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman doesn’t support raising the gas tax, and would rather give states the option to leave the federal program, but keep their federal tax money. An amendment he proposed to that effect in 2012 was voted down 68 to 30.

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