In a Thursday morning interview with KEEL News, United States Senator Bill Cassidy defended his support of of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which he says will go to improving Louisiana roads and bridges.

During the interview, the Senator fielded questions about a proposed "pilot program" that paves the way to imposing a per-mile highway usage tax on all American vehicles, both private and commercial.

Here is the complete interview with Cassidy on KEEL.

When asked about that portion of the bill that says, "The term ‘‘per-mile user fee’’ means a revenue mechanism that - is applied to road users operating motor vehicles on the surface transportation system; and is based on the number of vehicle miles traveled by an individual road user," Cassidy told KEEL that that portion of the bill wasn't included.

"It's not in there," said Cassidy, insisting that the per-mile tax proposal mentioned in Section 13002 doesn't exist, "That's not in there."

But when the exact verbiage of the bill was read to him, the Senator seemed to change his tune. "There is that section. That's not the section I wrote. But I promise you there is no user fee being assessed," Cassidy then said, "I promise you there is not a user fee being assessed. It's a pilot. They could be taking vehicles that are belonging to the federal government and we want to see how it works."

Since this morning's interview, Dr. Cassidy's staff has since reached out to further clarify his statements and the bill. The staffer said that this "important piece of legislation" has a lot of nuance to it and feels that certain parts of it were being misunderstood and misrepresented.

"The section referenced during the interview is not a tax. It does not implement a tax on any drivers. It is a 'pilot project', or study, looking into whether a per mile system is even feasible. Even in the pilot project, there is no user fee being assessed. It is only a study to determine if there is a sufficient method to assess miles driven for a hypothetical program. (An emerging issue is electric vehicles who drive on our roads but do not pay the gas tax.)"

Meanwhile, Louisiana Senator John Kennedy introduced an amendment to this bill earlier this week which strikes the entire 'per mile pilot program' provision from the bill entirely. That amendment number is #2434.

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