President Barack Obama will propose a $10-per-barrel charge on oil to fund clean transportation projects as part of his final budget request next week, the White House said Thursday.
The proposal — which follows the passage of a bipartisan transportation bill last year — would have difficulty clearing the Republican-controlled Congress. In a statement, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, House majority whip, said the House would quash the "absurd" plan.
Oil companies would pay the fee, which would be gradually introduced over five years. The government would use the revenue to help fund high-speed railways, autonomous cars and other travel systems, aiming to reduce emissions from the nation's transportation system.
Obama said Friday that the investments would put the United States in a "much stronger position" in the coming decades, particularly if oil prices start to rise again. It makes more sense to levy the charge now while gas prices remain low for consumers, he contended.
"I think we'll look back and say, 'that was a smart investment,'" Obama said in response to a question at a news conference Friday.