Capitol Alert

House Republicans dismiss ‘political threats’ from California gas tax supporters

Despite a warning of political repercussions, the majority of California’s Republican congressional delegation will support an initiative to repeal recently approved increases to the state gas tax and vehicle registration fee.

In a letter sent Wednesday to major backers of the road repair funding plan, 11 of California’s 14 GOP House members said they “stand with California taxpayers who know that Sacramento does not need more money for transportation projects, they just need better stewards of the taxes we already send them.”

Critics of the tax hike, which is expected to generate $5.2 billion annually to fix California’s crumbling roads and public transit systems, filed a constitutional amendment last month that would not only undo the new fees, but also prevent lawmakers from passing any future increases without a statewide vote.

Concerned that vulnerable Republican members of Congress would fund the campaign to drive conservative turnout in next year’s election, a coalition of 20 business, labor and local government groups that lobbied heavily for the tax increase urged the delegation to back off or face a “robust and powerful effort in opposition.”

A spokesman for Rep. Ken Calvert of Corona, the chairman of the Republican delegation, said he did not “have anything to share” about whether GOP members would put financial resources behind the initiative.

“We appreciate your warning that opposing SB 1 could ‘create new political adversaries,’ ” reads the letter, which was signed by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield. “When the Fix Our Roads Coalition is done making political threats and is interested in discussing real, long-term solutions to our transportation challenges, please know that our doors are always open.”

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff