WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it supported a modest increase in the federal gasoline tax to funnel more money into the Highway Trust Fund.
U.S. lawmakers are looking for funds to pay for upgrades to the country's highways, bridges and public transportation systems.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue testified that the nation's highway and transit systems are in poor shape and money to fix them is running out.
"We need to phase in a moderate increase in the gas tax over a number of years and index it to inflation," he said.
U.S. drivers are paying record highs for gasoline prices for this time of year. Refinery outages and higher crude oil prices mean gasoline in California and New York costs more than $4 per gallon. The U.S. Energy Department states that taxes -- federal, state and local -- make up about 13 percent of the price of gasoline.
U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed a trust fund to advance alternative-fuel vehicles to free taxpayers from "the painful spikes in gas prices."
He added that the nation's infrastructure was "badly in need of repair" but in a way that wouldn't shoulder his constituents with a tax burden.
The federal gasoline tax -- 18.4 cents per gallon -- was last raised in the 1990s.