An Illinois congressman wants to raise the fuel tax – for barges. U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Peoria) says the money would pay for improvements to locks and dams along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, and the industry is asking for it. “The barge terminal operators and the barge traffic operators joined together and said we want our fees to be raised, and all that money to be dedicated to the Inland Waterway Trust Fund. I’m the chief sponsor of the bill that’s been introduced. It’s a bipartisan bill, nearly the entire Iowa, Missouri, Illinois delegation and others are on the bill,” he said.
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The tax is now 20 cents a gallon; the industry wants it raised to 26 or 29 cents. Schock is not sure whether fellow House Republicans, many of whom are anti-tax hawks, will see this tax increase as a “user fee,” even if the industry requested it.
Meanwhile, a re-authorization of the Water Resources Development Act, authorizing spending on these projects, could come up for floor votes in the coming weeks, as it appears a conference committee report is imminent. However, even if that measure passes and is signed into law, money for specific projects would still have to go through the congressional appropriation process.