Republican senators back Obama on gas tax hike

Five GOP senators joined Democratic Sens.

Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey in backing President Barack Obama in pushing for a $1.3 billion hike in the federal gas tax on Tuesday, even though they believe the president is wrong to say he will veto the bill.

The Senate voted 54-43 in favor of a $400 a gallon tax hike on gasoline and diesel on the final day of its weekly business, which is the last day to send bills to the president.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he would seek to have the measure passed in the coming weeks.

The bill would also raise the excise tax on fuel, a key element of the president’s energy plan that was designed to spur the economy.

The measure also would cut the tax on gasoline by $1 a gallon, to $3.40, and would make the excise-tax increase permanent.

The increase would be phased in over three years, to allow lawmakers to prepare for the new tax when it comes into effect.

A majority of Republicans are opposed to raising the gas tax.

They argue the increase will hurt small businesses, increase the federal debt, and make it harder for the president to sell the tax cut.

Democrats argue the hike will spur the U.S. economy.

They say that, at $1, the gas price is about $2 a gallon lower than it would be if the tax was not raised.

The House approved the bill on a bipartisan basis, but it did not advance in the Senate, where Republicans control both chambers.

Republicans have said they will not seek to override the president on the gas-tax measure, but Democrats are eager to move forward on the broader tax bill, including the proposed $3 trillion infrastructure package.

The chamber has already passed a $3,000 gas tax increase on gasoline, but Senate Republicans say they will block it from being included in a bill that would make any future gas tax increases permanent.