Next Congressional Crisis: The Federal Gas Tax?

transportation advocates are scrambling to shore up support for the gas tax and nervously eyeing the crunched congressional calendar.

WASHINGTON -- Talk about a bumpy road ahead. When Congress gets back to Washington next month, lawmakers face a possible legislative pile-up over the federal gas tax, an important source of funds to Connecticut and every other state with transportation infrastructure needs.

That 18.4-cent levy on every gallon expires on Sept. 30. And it could quickly become a focal point for a fresh fight over taxes and spending, as lawmakers rev up the debate over debt reduction this fall.

At the end of last year, President Barack Obama's bipartisan fiscal commission recommended a gradual 15-cent hike in the federal gas tax starting in 2013. Other debt-reduction groups have similarly looked at ways to shore up funding for the federal Highway Trust Fund, which currently does not take in enough revenue to cover the nation's transportation spending levels.

But raising the gas tax is a non-starter in this Congress, where House Republicans, filled with Tea Party fervor, have opposed any tax increases. And indeed, some conservative groups have even signaled that they would like to see the gas nixed all together, and they see the looming deadline as an opportunity to move in that direction.

More at The CT Mirror.