U.S. Division of Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg acknowledged on Thursday that elevating the federal gasoline tax can be one of many choices to fund “main investments” wanted for freeway infrastructure.
“I feel all choices have to be on the desk,” Buttigieg stated throughout his affirmation listening to earlier than the U.S. Senate’s Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
“The present state of the freeway belief fund [HTF] is that there’s extra going out than coming in, and up till now that’s been addressed with common funding transfers. I don’t know whether or not Congress would need to proceed doing that. I feel within the close to time period we’d like an answer that may present some predictability and sustainability. In the long run, we’d like to remember that as autos develop into extra environment friendly and we pursue electrification, in the end there can be questions on whether or not the gasoline tax may be efficient in any respect.”
The American Trucking Associations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have advocated for elevating the gasoline tax 5 cents a yr for 4 years and adjusting it for inflation thereafter.
Pressed additional on the HTF by lawmakers, Buttigieg stated he could be open to proceed funding it by transferring cash from the U.S. Treasury common fund “if there’s an urge for food for it.” Nevertheless, “if we’re dedicated to the thought of consumer pays, a part of the way you may do that may be primarily based on car miles traveled. However that raises considerations about privateness, and there stays technical points as effectively. It’s going to must be a dialog not solely within the administration however with Congress too.”
Through the almost three-hour listening to, Buttigieg linked the Biden administration’s infrastructure targets to the economic system, together with the potential to create jobs, and to local weather coverage.
“The president has made it very clear that he expects all of us to work on delivering a brand new local weather imaginative and prescient, and positively DOT has a giant half on this,” Buttigieg stated. “You consider the position concerned in gasoline economic system requirements, car electrification, what we’d must do as a rustic to have a charging station infrastructure. I feel these should be contemplated as a central characteristic of any infrastructure bundle.”
Buttigieg was questioned in regards to the Trump administration’s willpower, made below former DOT Secretary Elaine Chao in 2018, that discovered federal hours-of-service legal guidelines for truck drivers preempted California’s stricter meal and relaxation break legal guidelines. The willpower was upheld last week in federal appeals court.
“I’d need to look extra into a number of the particular case legislation that you just’re discussing, however definitely recognizing the significance of consistency and predictability,” Buttigieg said in responding to Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. — leaving open the opportunity of the brand new administration reversing course on federal preemption. “The important thing in fact is squaring that with the basic mission of security.”
Buttigieg was additionally requested in regards to the Federal Motor Provider Security Administration’s current pilot program proposal to gather information on splitting the 10-hour sleeper berth rest time into 6/4 and 5/5 periods. “I’d need to take a better have a look at this and have interaction with the stakeholders as effectively to ensure I perceive how this pilot program squares the targets of employee and traveler security with the objective of flexibility,” he stated.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., requested Buttigieg if he agreed there wanted to be a “vital improve” in aggressive grant applications inside DOT to pay for infrastructure enhancements, significantly these aimed toward transferring U.S. exports extra effectively. “Completely there must be a serious funding with a purpose to ship,” he stated.
Cantwell requested if he supported the Jones Act, a 100-year-old home maritime shipping legislation that requires ships transferring between U.S. ports be flagged and constructed within the U.S., in addition to crewed by American seafarers.
“I share your assist for the Jones Act; it’s so essential to the maritime business and creates a whole bunch of hundreds of jobs in addition to the U.S. shipbuilding business.”