U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is backing U.S. Sen. Mike Lee’s, R-Utah, effort to phase out the federal gas tax.
Lee introduced the “Transportation Empowerment Act” on Tuesday. According to the Utah Republican’s office, the bill “would give states and localities far more control over their infrastructure spending by phasing out the federal gas tax.”
On Tuesday, Lee weighed in on why he had introduced the bill.
“The federal government’s Highway Trust Fund is broke, and another year of band aid funding is not going to fix it,” Lee said. “Different states have different values and needs. State and local governments are perfectly capable of reflecting those values and meeting those needs with unique, customized transportation policies without the interference of politicians, bureaucrats, and special interests in Washington. The Interstate Highway System was completed decades ago, drivers are buying less gas, and the federal government has wasted far too much money on non-highway projects. It is just an outdated system that is long overdue for reform.”
“Having a 21st century infrastructure means empowering states with greater flexibility to prioritize the infrastructure needs of their local communities,” said Rubio who is cosponsoring the bill. “The Transportation Empowerment Act offers a viable solution to address the fiscal cliff facing the Highway Trust Fund, and will allow donor states, like Florida, to receive a better return on our infrastructure investments.”
The two senators were joined by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is also consponsoring the bill. Both Cruz and Rubio competed for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
“The Transportation Empowerment Act is a critical step in returning authority to the states,” Cruz said. “The strength and growth of American infrastructure is necessary to our economic future, and they are best achieved when we allow communities to assign resources according to their own needs, not far-off bureaucrats in Washington.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday. So far, there is no companion bill over in the U.S. House.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.