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U.S. transport chief to testify on Biden infrastructure push

PoliticsMar 18, 2021 01:55PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Transportation Secretary Buttigieg pictured at confirmation hearing

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will testify March 25 before a key U.S. House panel on the Biden administration's infrastructure push.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Peter DeFazio said Buttigieg will testify as lawmakers are working on a "transformational surface transportation reauthorization legislation".

As a candidate, President Joe Biden pledged to invest $2 trillion in fixing highways, bridges and airports; building climate-resilient homes; wiring cities for broadband internet; encouraging the manufacturing of fuel-efficient cars and installing 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations.

Biden has not offered a specific plan for what he plans to seek from Congress - and it is not clear if he will make a proposal before the hearing.

Democrats want to use a infrastructure bill to cut emissions and boost green transportation, while Republicans are critical.

Senator John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Energy Committee, said at a hearing Tuesday he is concerned Biden "wants to regulate the internal combustion engine out of existence and insist that all Americans use electric vehicles."

On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi directed key Democratic lawmakers to begin working with Republicans on an infrastructure package.

One big question remains how to pay for a massive boost

in spending.

Biden has pledged not to raise taxes on families making less than $400,000. Buttigieg told Bloomberg Radio in February this "rules out approaches like the old fashioned gas tax."

Congress has not boosted the 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal gasoline tax since 1993.

The federal government has abandoned a decades-old policy of largely using fuel tax revenue to fund infrastructure repairs.

Since 2008, Congress has transferred about $141 billion to the Highway Trust Fund. Congress failed again last year to approve a multi-year surface transportation bill and instead passed a one-year extension that expires Sept. 30.

U.S. transport chief to testify on Biden infrastructure push
 

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Red Riley Mar 18, 2021 9:36PM ET
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