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Beware: Democrats want a federal gas tax increase — and Trump may give it to them

House Democrats are resurrecting talk of passing a federal gas tax increase to pay for the Trump administration's long-desired infrastructure program, and there's reason to think President Trump may go for it.

Incoming House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Pete A. DeFazio, D-Ore., said Wednesday he hoped the White House will join Democrats in raising taxes to rescue the Highway Trust Fund from financial ruin.

“I think the president really wants to do an infrastructure package and I need his help because we are going to have to do some revenues and we are going to need him to show people that it’s ok to do a little bit of revenues,” DeFazio said, according to CQ.

“It’s up to Ways and Means [Committee], but I’m going to refine my proposal, introduce it and give it to them and hopefully they’ll like it; I’m going to propose it to the White House,” DeFazio added.

DeFazio previously attempted to move a gas tax increase through Congress, but House Republicans flatly rejected the idea of raising taxes. That Republican opposition in the House is no longer an issue for Democrats, who will regain control of the chamber in January.

This is where the danger lies. President Trump wants to pass an infrastructure package that will cost $1 trillion, and his White House has in the past signaled support for a 7-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase to pay for it. The federal gas tax is currently 18.4 cents per gallon. The White House's trial balloon was shot down by congressional Republicans, but if Democrats in the House majority tell the president he must accept a gas tax increase to get infrastructure, who's to say he won't make the deal?

It would be up to Senate Republicans to stop a gas tax increase. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., opposed a gas tax hike when Congress considered a highway bill in 2015. Back then it was politically expedient to oppose a tax hike with a Democrat in the White House. If President Trump lends his support to a bipartisan infrastructure bill with a gas tax hike, can conservatives trust McConnell to round up enough Republicans to kill the deal?

Meanwhile, as Democrats want to increase taxes, who's talking about Congress' spending problem?

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