WASHINGTON -- As Congress considers raising the gas tax to pay for new highway construction, Rep. Mark Kennedy is pushing an alternative plan that would let states erect toll lanes on interstate highways.
Kennedy, R-Minn., is sponsoring legislation that would repeal a federal ban on such tolls, provided that the money from tolls be used to pay for new optional "FAST" lanes.
The legislation puts Kennedy, the youngest member of the state's congressional delegation, on a collision course with Rep. Jim Oberstar, the dean of the delegation.
Oberstar, the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation Committee, and the committee chairman, Republican Don Young of Alaska, are supporting a six-year, $375 billion highway bill. Raising the gas tax is one several options the panel is considering.
Kennedy argued that state and local officials are in a better position to decide what road improvements are necessary than the federal government.
Oberstar opposes Kennedy's bill.
Several high-profile appearances outside of his district have raised speculation that Kennedy is eyeing Sen. Mark Dayton's seat in 2006.
Kennedy has raised $250,000 in campaign contributions this year, one of the largest treasuries in the state.
Kennedy declined to comment on a possible Senate run.
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