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While president, Donald Trump expressed lukewarm support for a 25-cent hike to the federal gasoline tax to help pay for infrastructure improvements. But he didn’t formalize the idea or pitch it to the public.
During a 2017 Bloomberg News interview, Trump said he’d "consider" raising the gasoline tax. The White House later walked back his comments.
In 2018, a Democratic lawmaker said Trump had endorsed raising the gasoline tax during a closed-door infrastructure meeting. Other politicians rebutted this characterization.
Learn more about PolitiFact’s fact-checking process and rating system.
ROCHESTER, N.H. — In the Republican presidential race, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is increasingly aiming her rhetorical fire at the front-runner, former President Donald Trump.
In a Jan. 17 town hall at an American Legion hall in Rochester, New Hampshire, Haley said Trump had proposed raising the federal gasoline tax while he was president — a sore point for motorists today.
Trump "proposed when he was president … he wanted to raise the gas tax up 25 cents," Haley told the crowd of about 150 attendees.
We found two instances during Trump’s presidency in which he appeared to show some support for a gasoline tax hike, which would help pay to repair and rebuild America’s roads and bridges. But we found no evidence that he officially proposed or publicly committed to the idea.
PolitiFact has reporters on the ground in New Hampshire this week in the run-up to the state’s first-in-the-nation primary. Haley’s Rochester rally is one of the events we covered by the remaining candidates.
Haley’s campaign sent us several news articles about Trump supporting a gasoline tax increase. The vast majority of the reports were about a single closed-door meeting in 2018 that cited a Democratic lawmaker who attended and said Trump endorsed the idea.
Taxes have been a sensitive issue for Haley in the primary. A group supporting one of Haley’s rivals, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has aired an ad accusing Haley of raising taxes, which we rated Mostly False. As South Carolina governor in 2015 and 2016, Haley proposed coupling an increase in the gasoline tax with an income tax cut. The proposal didn’t pass during her term.
Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
On May 1, 2017, then-President Trump told Bloomberg News that he would entertain a higher gasoline tax to help pay for infrastructure spending. "It’s something that I would certainly consider," he said.
The White House quickly walked this back. Then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that Trump wasn’t endorsing raising the gasoline tax but would consider doing so out of respect for an unnamed industry group that raised the idea. "What the president said during that interview is that folks from the industry had come to him and expressed to him how the deteriorating roads were affecting their ability to deliver goods and services throughout this country, and that they had expressed a willingness to see something like that as a way to help pay for and repair the roads and bridges," Spicer told reporters during a briefing.
Then, in January 2018, The Washington Post and other media outlets reported that during a meeting with then-House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., Trump had "privately" suggested increasing the gasoline tax by 50 cents to fund a national infrastructure overhaul. The reports relied on anonymous sources and said Republican leaders in Congress shut down the idea.
We cannot independently verify whether these conversations took place.
A few weeks later, on Feb. 14, 2018, one Democratic senator who attended a bipartisan, closed-door meeting on infrastructure at the White House told reporters that Trump had suggested a 25 cent-per-gallon gas tax increase.
"To my surprise, President Trump, today in our meeting, offered his support for raising the gas and diesel tax by 25 cents a gallon and dedicating that money to improve our roads, highways and bridges," Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., who has supported the increase, said in a statement. "Trump came back to the idea of a 25-cent increase several times throughout the meeting."
Shuster, who also attended the meeting, didn’t go as far as Carper in describing Trump’s degree of support, saying that Trump remained "open" to raising the tax during the meeting.
However, another attendee, then-Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., rebutted Carper’s characterization. "He was not advocating that. He was looking at all the options," Inhofe told CNN after the meeting. "All he said was we need to do something and that is still on the table."
The White House declined to address Carper’s characterization of Trump’s comments at the time but told news organizations that all options to help achieve infrastructure improvements were on the table. White House officials told news outlets that the gasoline tax "has its pros and cons, and that’s why the president is leading a thoughtful discussion on the right way to solve our nation’s infrastructure problems."
Haley said Trump "proposed when he was president … he wanted to raise the gas tax up to 25 cents."
On a few occasions, Trump said — or was reported to have said — that he was open to the idea. But that falls short of proposing or publicly backing the idea, as Haley suggested.
The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression, so we rate it Mostly False.
Rochester, New Hampshire, town hall with Nikki Haley, Jan. 17, 2024
Bloomberg News, Trump open to raising gas tax and negotiating tax overhaul plan, May 1, 2017
Trump White House Archives, Press briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer, May 1, 2017
The Washington Post, GOP leaders reject gas tax increase after Trump floats the idea, Jan. 10, 2018
Politico, Trump endorses 25-cent gas tax hike, lawmakers say, Feb. 14, 2018
CNN, Trump suggests 25 cent increase in gas tax, senator says, Feb. 15, 2018
The Hill, Shuster: Trump still ‘open’ to gas tax increase, Feb. 14, 2018
Email interview, AnnMarie Graham-Barnes spokesperson for Nikki Haley’s campaign, Jan. 18, 2024
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