Grover Norquist: No Problem With Extending Gas Tax

Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist said yesterday that he doesn’t see any problem with extending the gas tax when it comes up for renewal in September:

Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist says it’s fine with him if Congress extends the soon-to-expire gasoline tax for now — a statement that may allow room for lawmakers to defuse a brewing confrontation on what is normally a humdrum decision.

Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, told Bloomberg that lawmakers who vote to extend the tax without making any changes wouldn’t be violating the no-tax-hike pledge that many members of Congress have signed at his group’s behest.

The pledge — signed by virtually every Republican in Congress, plus many lawmakers at the state level — has made Norquist an influential player in fiscal issues including this summer’s debt limit showdown and Pennsylvania’s debate over an impact fee on natural gas drilling.

Most of the 18.4 cent per gallon gasoline tax is set to expire Sept. 30, imperiling the funding source for the federal Highway Trust Fund. While extending the tax is normally routine, some conservative groups have eyed the issue as an opportunity for yet another fiscal battle — on the heels of this year’s spring budget impasse, near-default on the U.S. debt and temporary shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration.

But Norquist told Bloomberg that he would rather push for a broader overhaul of transportation funding and that eliminating the gas tax entirely would take two to five years. In the short term, he said he would push for legislation to let states opt out of the highway fund.

“We’re interested in the broader issue that states should keep their own fuel taxes,” he said. “We don’t want it [to] run through Washington.”

In the wake of the debt ceiling debacle, I speculated that Washington’s next big political fight would be over the extension of the gas tax. Since then, there have been some indications that the gas tax extension would be one of the issues that the Tea Party and its various affiliated organizations would focus on when Congress returns in September. With Norquist giving at least tacit endorsement to an extension, though, there may be just enough political room for the GOP to get a bill through the House should the Tea Party try to make an issue out of it.

Incidentally, I think Norquist is largely correct that we need to rethink the way we fund transportation in this country. Unfortunately, that’s going to require a lot more cooperation than currently seems possible in the United States Congress.


FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Taxes, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. legion says:

    Well, it’s good to know that an unelected zealot has authorized one of the two major political parties to refrain from further destroying the nation’s economy.

  2. OzarkHibilly says:

    “We’re interested in the broader issue that states should keep their own fuel taxes,” he said. “We don’t want it [to] run through Washington.”

    But where is Mississippi going to get the money to build roads?

  3. An Interested Party says:

    Well, now that Norquist has weighed in on this, Republicans know exactly what to do…

  4. WR says:

    And who the hell is this clown to give Americans permission how to live?

  5. Murray says:

    Big deal.

    The problem, i.e. the fact that lawmakers bend over to the likes of Norquist, remains. In his mind the “pledge” to his lobby takes precedence over defending their constituency’s long term interests.

  6. racehorse says:

    @OzarkHibilly: Here’s how to get money for the highway “trust” fund: park Air Force 1. The president and family can stay home for awhile. This applies to Obama and future presidents.
    When everyone switches to electric and hydrogen cars, where will the money come from then? Or will the greedy federal government find a way to tax that also?
    The fact is that the gas tax hits the working, middle income families the hardest.
    Maybe they could tax the food at Ole Miss football games. That would bring in enough.

  7. CJ says:

    To WR… Norquist runs the GOP and several others,he is about to take over DC.Common sense tells me that is not the way politics should be run,why have a Congress when ONE man rules all of them or better yet why have a Congress then??

  8. john personna says:

    You guys know that theory of the gas tax is a “user fee,” and that we are often told that “it pays for roads.” It does in part, but not enough. It isn’t high enough for what we spend at the federal level.

    So, why can’t it be raised?

    It should be a preeminently conservative position to move from general tax to user fee.

    On the other hand this is another tax we don’t want to pay, just because we don’t want to. We don’t like paying the gas tax, and so it is still a Tea Party (“tax is theft”) issue.

    [link: Roads Don’t Pay for Themselves]