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* Mr. BLUMENAUER. Madam Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Heavy Truck Tax Fairness Act. Nothing is more essential to restoring the economy, revitalizing our communities, and protecting our environment than the effort to rebuild and renew America. The U.S. faces steep infrastructure challenges. Our infrastructure inventory is in poor repair and much of it is outdated--not just decades, but often centuries old. Our effort to rebuild and renew that infrastructure is stalled because of a funding impasse. The Highway Trust Fund nearly exhausted its funding several times recently and it is clear that our existing funding mechanisms are insufficient to meet our current, much less future, needs. Congress must consider new revenue sources to meet our infrastructure challenges and must work with transportation users to find the most efficient means of raising this revenue.
* The funding sources for the Highway Trust Fund can be volatile, depending on the health of the economy. Current law places a 12 percent tax on the sale of new heavy trucks, trailers, and certain tractors. This tax is an important source of Highway Trust Fund revenues. In times of economic stress, these sales fall dramatically, badly limiting Trust Fund resources. These lost sales have several important effects. By reducing revenue to the Trust Fund, the decline hinders economic productivity by imposing costs from poor infrastructure. It also reflects an increase in the average age of the trucking fleet. New trucks have significant environmental and safety advantages, and Congress should reduce the barriers to new truck acquisition. To meet the demand for new trucks, most truck manufacturers will add employees, as most have significant engine and final assembly operations in the U.S.
* The Heavy Truck Tax Fairness Act would replace the 12 percent excise tax currently levied on new truck, trailer, and certain tractor sales with a revenue neutral increase in the diesel fuel excise tax of $0.073 per gallon. This modest change will be revenue neutral over 10 years and will have the effect of smoothing resources available to the Highway Trust Fund and will ensure the U.S. can continue investing in our vital transportation infrastructure.
* I also note that this legislation does not affect all transportation stakeholders equally. In particular, smaller companies and owner-operators could see fewer benefits. I pledge to work with affected groups as this legislation advances to ensure that the legislation, as enacted, is as carefully tailored and broadly beneficial as possible.
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