Senate Democrats are launching an effort to win bipartisan support for the investment of $500 billion in taxpayer dollars in infrastructure improvements, according to the Washington Post.
With health-care changes at a standstill and tax reform — another objective on which Republicans campaigned last year — a complex project that is expected to take months, Democrats hope infrastructure spending will emerge as a desirable legislative win for Congress and the White House.
The Democratic push came in a week when President Trump appeared to acknowledge that his campaign promise to raise $1 trillion for infrastructure largely through private-sector investment was not feasible. Trump stunned lawmakers with the admission that certain partnerships between the private sector and federal government simply don’t work.
Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee sent a letter asking to meet with Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, reminding her of her confirmation-hearing promise to work in bipartisan fashion in delivering on Trump’s campaign promise.
That appeal is buttressed by an internal committee document in which the Democrats outline their infrastructure priorities for Chairman Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). Barrasso expressed worries at committee hearing in February that rural states like his wouldn’t attract much of the private investment Trump promised.
The committee’s Democrats spelled out a proposal to spend $500 billion more in tax dollars on infrastructure over 10 years, all in areas within its purview. (The committee’s domain is highways, the Banking Committee handles transit systems, and the Commerce Committee is responsible for buses and railways.)
With an abundance of bipartisan will to meet the need, the unresolved controversy has been how to pay for it. The options range from leaving much of the tax burden to the states, to increasing the federal tax on gas and diesel, to forcing multinational companies who have kept about $2 trillion in profits offshore to bring the money home, using the tax revenue from that money to pay for infrastructure.