Trump administration to revive infrastructure plan

Top officials of the Trump administration met last week on plans to revive an infrastructure bill in Congress that could cost as much as $200 billion over ten years, according to Reuters.

Trump made infrastructure spending a centerpiece of his presidential campaign in 2016 and had preliminary talks with Democrats about pushing a bill to the floor.

But the two sides are far apart on the amount of federal dollars that should be spent as well as where the money would go.

About 20 officials took part in the more than hour-long meeting with Trump, including Vice President Mike Pence, White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the sources said.

They discussed how to incorporate into the plan funding for a next-generation wireless network, known as 5G, and potentially using the plan to modernize the U.S. air traffic control system, the people said. It followed a senior staff-level meeting on infrastructure earlier this month.

A White House official confirmed the meeting took place but declined to comment further.

The administration is considering a 13-year program but has not settled on key issues, including whether it will propose new ways to pay for increased spending.

The 13-year time frame mirrors the longest-ever highway funding program. In 1956, Congress authorized $25 billion from the budget years 1957 through 1969. The current highway bill expires in September 2020 and could be a vehicle for new infrastructure spending.

Officials may have another meeting on raising the subject in the State of the Union before a final decision. The White House may only insert a reference to Trump’s eagerness to work with Democrats to get a deal done. Trump has said on several occasions since he was elected in 2016 that he wants to reach across the aisle on the issue.

The administration wants to limit the amount of federal money spent on the plan and rely on state and local governments for much of it.

Democrats insist any plan must include new revenue. Trump administration officials have been meeting with congressional Democrats in recent months to talk about highway funding and infrastructure issues.

The administration proposed a plan last year to use $200 billion in federal funds to try to stimulate $1.5 trillion in infrastructure improvements over 10 years, but would have cut an equivalent amount in projected infrastructure spending from the federal budget as it shifted more costs to states and cities.

The plan was declared dead on arrival and never got a vote in Congress.

The Trump administration has not decided how much, if any, of last year’s plan to include in its new proposal.

The bill should prove very popular in Congress with members rushing to push their own pet projects to the fore. Trump's ideas are more down to earth than the Democrats, setting more modest goals and using existing funds already budgeted as much as possible.

It seems likely that something will get done eventually. It depends on how willing the president is to move his position toward the Democrats. The Dems would love to go to the voters in 2020 with hundreds of billions of dollars in new infrastructure spending, so with both sides having the incentive to get a deal done, it will probably happen.

 

 

Top officials of the Trump administration met last week on plans to revive an infrastructure bill in Congress that could cost as much as $200 billion over ten years, according to Reuters.

Trump made infrastructure spending a centerpiece of his presidential campaign in 2016 and had preliminary talks with Democrats about pushing a bill to the floor.

But the two sides are far apart on the amount of federal dollars that should be spent as well as where the money would go.

About 20 officials took part in the more than hour-long meeting with Trump, including Vice President Mike Pence, White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the sources said.

They discussed how to incorporate into the plan funding for a next-generation wireless network, known as 5G, and potentially using the plan to modernize the U.S. air traffic control system, the people said. It followed a senior staff-level meeting on infrastructure earlier this month.

A White House official confirmed the meeting took place but declined to comment further.

The administration is considering a 13-year program but has not settled on key issues, including whether it will propose new ways to pay for increased spending.

The 13-year time frame mirrors the longest-ever highway funding program. In 1956, Congress authorized $25 billion from the budget years 1957 through 1969. The current highway bill expires in September 2020 and could be a vehicle for new infrastructure spending.

Officials may have another meeting on raising the subject in the State of the Union before a final decision. The White House may only insert a reference to Trump’s eagerness to work with Democrats to get a deal done. Trump has said on several occasions since he was elected in 2016 that he wants to reach across the aisle on the issue.

The administration wants to limit the amount of federal money spent on the plan and rely on state and local governments for much of it.

Democrats insist any plan must include new revenue. Trump administration officials have been meeting with congressional Democrats in recent months to talk about highway funding and infrastructure issues.

The administration proposed a plan last year to use $200 billion in federal funds to try to stimulate $1.5 trillion in infrastructure improvements over 10 years, but would have cut an equivalent amount in projected infrastructure spending from the federal budget as it shifted more costs to states and cities.

The plan was declared dead on arrival and never got a vote in Congress.

The Trump administration has not decided how much, if any, of last year’s plan to include in its new proposal.

The bill should prove very popular in Congress with members rushing to push their own pet projects to the fore. Trump's ideas are more down to earth than the Democrats, setting more modest goals and using existing funds already budgeted as much as possible.

It seems likely that something will get done eventually. It depends on how willing the president is to move his position toward the Democrats. The Dems would love to go to the voters in 2020 with hundreds of billions of dollars in new infrastructure spending, so with both sides having the incentive to get a deal done, it will probably happen.