Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Takes Shape

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President Trump’s long-awaited infrastructure plan was unveiled on Feb. 12, calling for a federal investment of $200 billion over 10 years, which would be leveraged into $1.5 trillion through local and state tax dollars in addition to private investment. The plan is outlined in 55-page document available here.

“Our Nation’s infrastructure is in an unacceptable state of disrepair, which damages our country’s competitiveness and our citizens’ quality of life. For too long, lawmakers have invested in infrastructure inefficiently, ignored critical needs, and allowed it to deteriorate. As a result, the United States has fallen further and further behind other countries. It is time to give Americans the working, modern infrastructure they deserve,” Trump wrote in the document.

Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council wrote: “In the past, the Federal Government politically allocated funds for projects, leading to waste, mismanagement, and misplaced priorities. The answer to our Nation’s infrastructure needs is not more projects selected by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. Instead, the President’s plan designates half of its $200 billion for matching funds to stimulate state, local, and private investment. Rather than telling governors and mayors what to do, we will partner with them as they invest in the most pressing projects in the highest-need places. And where it makes sense, we will move old infrastructure off the Government balance sheet and into private investment.”

Among the financing proposals included in the document are:

– Expand Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Funding and Broaden Program Eligibility

– Expand Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) and Broaden Program Eligibility

– Expand Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Funding and Broaden Program Eligibility

– Expand Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Lending Programs Funding

– Create Flexibility and Broaden Eligibility to Facilitate use of Private Activity Bonds (PABs)

In addition to providing support for upgrading existing infrastructure, the plan calls for $20 billion of federal money to be made available for the “Transformative Projects Program,” which would be overseen by the Department of Commerce. The program would provide funding and technical assistance for “bold, innovative, and transformative infrastructure projects that could dramatically improve infrastructure.”

Industry Reaction

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, released the following statement in reaction to the release of President Trump’s proposal:

“The President has outlined a needed and thought-provoking proposal to rebuild and improve the nation’s aging and over-burdened public infrastructure. The details of this proposal are important and many, including this association, will seek changes to further improve upon the President’s concept. Yet the most significant aspect of today’s release is that it signals the start of what should be a timely, bipartisan and bicameral process to identify the best ways to fund and finance desperately needed improvements to our public infrastructure.

“This process should build on the many positive aspects of the President’s infrastructure proposal. These include increasing direct federal funding for public works by at least $200 billion over the next 10 years; making improvements to the federal permitting process that maintain strong environmental protections while significantly accelerating project reviews; and finding innovative new ways to use federal funds to leverage additional state, local and private-sector funding for infrastructure.

“At the same time, as the President’s own proposal makes clear, Congress must identify ways to address chronic funding shortfalls affecting the federal Highway Trust Fund that have put needed highway, bridge and transit improvements at risk too many times during the past decade. And Congress must also identify effective and long-term ways to fund other infrastructure improvements that are just as vital to our continued economic success as is the surface transportation program.

“Moving forward, this association will work vigorously to ensure Congress passes a significant, new, long-term infrastructure funding package as quickly as possible. Our goal will be to make sure every member of Congress appreciates that our economy will not be able to grow if we continue to allow our infrastructure to deteriorate.”

Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater issued the following statement:

“Equipment manufacturers welcome the introduction of President Trump’s infrastructure proposal today. It should serve as an important starting point for serious debate in Congress, given that an overwhelming majority of Americans wants for Washington to act on infrastructure this year.

“The White House plan includes a number of important elements. Equipment manufacturers applaud the ‘One Agency, One Decision’ initiative to reduce permitting time on projects to 24 months, as well as their request to create designated funds to support rural infrastructure development and transformative infrastructure projects. The industry is also encouraged by the inclusion of a proposal to help train our manufacturing and construction workforce in charge of building America’s infrastructure.

“However, the Trump administration’s proposal does not solve our nation’s underlying infrastructure issues, including the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and other programs to support our utility, water and aviation infrastructure.

“We hope that Congress will take up and build upon the Trump administration’s infrastructure proposal on a bipartisan basis to help America reclaim its infrastructure advantage over our global competitors.”

RELATED: Gateway Program Tops Trump’s Infrastructure Priority List

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