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A traffic jam in Chicago. Photo: Patrick Gorski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A White House adviser working to pass President Trump’s infrastructure package is casting doubt on whether a hike in the gas tax, as it’s currently structured, would do its intended job:

“We need to figure out as a country what kind of infrastructure we want for the next 50 years and then decide how we’re going to pay for it, instead of finding ourselves in the traditional legacy arguments of gas tax or no gas tax."
— Alexander Herrgott, associate director for infrastructure at WH Council on Environmental Quality

Why it matters: Trump endorsed a 25-cent gas tax hike to pay for his infrastructure package at a White House meeting Wednesday, Axios’ Jonathan Swan reports. The idea is likely dead on arrival on Capitol Hill, where many Republicans say they’re not about to hike taxes right after passing tax cuts.

Gritty details: The federal gas tax, which Congress hasn't raised since 1993, stands at 18.4 cents. The revenue goes toward the Highway Trust Fund, which is used to maintain the nation’s roads, highways and mass transit systems. Current law restricts the tax’s funds from being used for any other type of infrastructure, the point Herrgott was making Tuesday night at an event hosted by Republican Women for Progress, a conservative women's’ group.

“How can we talk about rebuilding and assessing a user fee like a gas tax when we haven’t adequately communicated what they’re getting for those dollars?” Herrgott said. “Before we have the conversation about raising revenue for just highways, we are trying to address airports, bridges, transit facilities, water, etc. – a much broader agenda. That’s what we’re really trying to do.”

One level deeper: Much of the nation’s infrastructure is paid for by siloed forms of tax revenues, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan think tank. Airports, for example, are maintained with their own trust fund and a ticket tax.

“Of course Congress can amend the structure and redirect it [the gas tax] in some infrastructure package,” said Steve Ellis, spokesman for the group. “But there are already those that complain gas tax dollars should just go to roads, not transit or bus or anything else. And the fact is it doesn’t generate enough revenue for the amount Congress already wants to spend!”

Go deeper

Democrat Mark Kelly sworn in to U.S. Senate

Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Astronaut Mark Kelly (D) was sworn in to the U.S. Senate on Wednesday after defeating incumbent Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) last month for the seat once held by the late Sen. John McCain.

Why it matters: Kelly's swearing-in by Vice President Mike Pence narrows the Republican majority and moves the Senate balance to 52-48.

Senate Armed Services chair dismisses Trump threat to veto defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters Wednesday that he plans to move ahead with a crucial defense-spending bill without provisions that would eliminate tech industry protections, defying a veto threat from President Trump.

Why it matters: Inhofe's public rebuke signals that the Senate could have enough Republican backing to override a potential veto from Trump, who has demanded that the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Scoop: Uber in talks to sell air taxi business to Joby

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Uber is in advanced talks to sell its Uber Elevate unit to Joby Aviation, Axios has learned from multiple sources. A deal could be announced later this month.

Between the lines: Uber Elevate was formed to develop a network of self-driving air taxis, but to date has been most notable for its annual conference devoted to the nascent industry.