WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Claire McCaskill told the Obama administration Thursday she opposes efforts to track drivers' mileage, a stance that could inoculate the Missouri Democrat from GOP attacks as she approaches re-election.
In a letter addressed to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and provided to The Associated Press, McCaskill wrote that any proposal to tax drivers based on miles they drive will place a burden on already cash-strapped motorists.
"As you know, there is a vital need to improve our nation's roads and related highway infrastructure," McCaskill wrote to LaHood. "However, this is not the right time to raise funds by imposing a vehicle miles traveled tax on people who are already cutting back.
The Obama administration also opposes the tax, said Olivia Alair, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Transportation.
"The Obama administration does not support a vehicle mileage tax or VMT," Alair said.
McCaskill wrote in the letter that while she understands the Obama administration is not supporting the tax she "thought (the issue) was important enough to state my strong opposition on the record."
The National Republican Senatorial Campaign committee, which lists McCaskill as one of its top targets, has pressed McCaskill and several vulnerable incumbents on the mileage tax issue. In an email sent to supporters on Monday, the NRSC's executive director, Rob Jesmer, asked supporters to contact their senators and express opposition to the tax.
McCaskill has never expressed interest in the mileage tax proposal. Her letter to LaHood made clear in her letter that she thinks it is bad policy.
"In these times of economic hardship, with highly unpredictable gas prices, America's drivers simply cannot afford a new mileage tax that penalizes them for their daily commute or taking their kids to soccer practice," McCaskill wrote.
McCaskill is expected to talk about her opposition to the mileage tax at an event Friday in Kansas City, Mo.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)