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WASHINGTON -- Alaska Congressman Don Young, who is battling the White House and Republican House leaders over his proposal to raise the national gasoline tax, acknowledged that he might not be able to pass the $375 billion highway bill he wants this year.
"What I've run up against right now is, frankly, it's the administration that says they won't support any taxes at all," Young, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Young's top priority as chairman is to increase spending on transportation construction. The 60 percent increase he is proposing is necessary, he says, to reduce traffic congestion that burdens the U.S. economy, businesses and individuals. He has suggested raising the national gasoline tax, now at 18.4 cents per gallon, to more than 30 cents by 2009. He has also suggested pegging it to the inflation rate so that it continues to rise automatically, Reuters reported.
Other lawmakers say they won't support higher taxes, on gas or anything else. Young said he plans to discuss the issue with House leaders this week.
Young said that if he can't complete the bill by the end of July, he would agree to extend the existing bill for a year. But, Young said, when the highway reauthorization bill does pass, it'll have new provisions -- "door-openers," he called them -- that will allow him to make changes in the bill every two years.