CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. Senate Democrats have expressed reluctance to back a gas tax increase as one way to fund rebuilding the nation's infrastructure.
"At this point, the caucus is not ready to sign off on a gas tax or any tax increase," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada told reporters Thursday.
The gas-tax question arose because of Democratic support for passage of a multiyear transportation authorization bill party lawmakers say would create jobs and help the economy, The Hill reported.
Democrats discussed the increase during their two-day retreat in Charlottesville, Va., as part of a broader discussion of funding proposals.
Senators participating in the talks told The Hill much of the discussion focused on redirecting federal spending from redundant government programs to initiatives that could spark the economy, including scientific and medical research, transportation infrastructure and energy development.
President Obama favors ending tax breaks for the oil and gas industries over a gas tax increase.
Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, told senators attending the retreat ending tax breaks for special interests could bring in hundreds of billions of dollars for the government, participants said.