In a Jan. 17 "Statement of Administration Policy," the Bush Administration criticized the $31.8 billion FY 2003 highway investment level proposed in the Senate omnibus appropriations bill. "The bill also proposes an unsustainable level of spending for highways, which breaks dramatically with the traditional linkage of highway spending and trust fund revenues. This would put the program on a path to an inevitable gas tax increase, which the Administration strongly opposes," the statement said.
According to a Jan. 7 letter from the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to the Senate Appropriations Committee in support of a $31.8 billion FY 2003 highway investment level, "current Congressional Budget Office revenue projections show the Highway Trust Fund can responsibly support the increased $31.8 billion program level while maintaining safe and adequate services."
The Administration's opposition to increasing highway user fees is nothing new--U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta publicly stated this position last summer.