Charles Edward Miller

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Thursday that he supports indexing the gas tax to inflation to pay for an infrastructure package.

“I think that ultimately has to happen…I look at it as a user fee,” Durbin told reporters.

The call from Democrat Senate leadership to raise the gas tax comes as gas prices continue to soar over $3.00/gallon and consumer prices jumped 5% in May.

Indexing the federal gas tax to inflation would amount to a gas tax increase on autopilot. Congress has declined to increase the gas tax since 1993 when it was raised to its current level of 18.4 cents/gallon. For context, if the gas tax had been indexed to inflation in 1993, the current gas tax would be roughly 33.5 cents/gallon, more than an 80% increase of the current gas tax.

Durbin’s call to raise the gas tax is a clear contradiction of the Biden administration’s position to date and would violate President Biden’s promise that “nobody making less than $400,000 have to pay a penny more in tax under my proposals.”

Biden’s own Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttiegieg, has previously acknowledged that increasing the federal gas tax would violate Biden’s pledge.

“The President’s made a commitment that this administration will not raise taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year,” Buttigieg told Bloomberg Radio’s “Sound On” show in February. “And so that rules out approaches like the old fashioned gas tax.” Buttgieg’s comments came as he walked back his previous call to raise the gas tax and index it to inflation during confirmation hearings.