Business groups see President Joe Biden's proposed federal gas tax holiday as potentially doing more harm than good.
The lobbyists representing manufacturers, construction contractors, and civil engineers criticized the president's plan announced Wednesday, arguing the relief for consumers on rising gasoline prices will pale in comparison to the potential delays and resulting costs of stalled infrastructure programs paid through the Highway Trust Fund and funded by those gas taxes.
"Our nation achieved historic progress with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, but this move is likely to derail its implementation by suddenly disrupting its funding, delaying critical projects that Americans desperately need and that are vital to manufacturers' competitiveness," National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons wrote in a statement.
"Since the beginning of this administration, we have provided specific solutions and recommendations for improving energy security and taking an all-of-the-above approach: restarting and expanding oil and gas leasing on federal lands, prioritizing funding and expediting permitting for traditional and emerging energy options, expanding critical mineral mining and processing, strengthening and diversifying clean energy supply chains, promoting regulatory predictability by refraining from revising air standards until previous ones are met, upholding the infrastructure law's One Federal Decision policy and more.
"We would be in a better position now if these and other actions had already been taken, and the need to act has only grown more urgent."
Biden called on Congress to pass a three-month pause on the $0.184 per gallon federal gas tax and the $0.244 per gallon federal diesel tax, while urging the states to do the same with their state gas taxes.
"With the tax revenues up this year and our deficit down over $1.6 trillion this year alone, we'll still be able to fix our highways and bring down prices of gas," Biden said at Wednesday's news conference. "We can do both at the same time."
A consortium of infrastructure lobbyist denounced Biden's plans in a letter to the president Wednesday, saying freezing the "gas taxes" would "undermine recent and historic infrastructure investments."
"American consumers are facing significant economic anxieties brought about by record inflation, continuing supply chain issues, high energy prices, labor shortages, and continued concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic," the letter read. "These stiff economic headwinds demand your administration’s full attention and prompt action but suspending the gas tax would not have a meaningful impact on addressing these challenges.
"Doing so, however, would very likely hurt efforts to improve the safety and condition of our roadways, bridges, and transit systems. It would also undermine efforts to create jobs and realize the once-in-a-generation investments in our nation’s infrastructure by the historic and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)."
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