President Trump called on Congress to pass an infrastructure bill costing at least $1.5 trillion during his inaugural State of the Union address. Trump’s rebuilding plan, which is expected to be a core part of his 2018 agenda, will be divided into two major goals: rebuilding U.S. infrastructure and speeding up the permit approval process, according to The Hill.
“I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve,” Trump said. “Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need.”
Trump’s pitch, however, lacked critical policy details, like how the White House plans to pay for the package or how exactly the money will be spent.
According to a leaked outline of a prospective plan, the federal government is only putting up a fraction of the funds that will be used to build and fix projects including highways, bridges and airports. Half of the appropriations will go toward an “infrastructure incentives” program giving federal grants to state, local or private entities.
Federal grant awards can cover up to 20 percent of the total cost of the infrastructure plan, said the document. Federal money will also go toward a so-called “Transformative Projects Program” that finances exploratory and groundbreaking ideas that have more risk than standard infrastructure projects but offer a larger reward profile.
“While [we] commend President Trump for continuing to focus on infrastructure investment, the time is long overdue for words to become action,” said Brian P. McGuire, president and CEO of Associated Equipment Distributors (AED). “Every day there are numerous examples of structurally deficient bridges, dams and levees and inadequate roads, airports and pipes. Time is wasted in traffic or sitting on an overcrowded runway. Clean water is squandered as water mains break. Lives are put at risk.
“Our infrastructure is the lifeblood of our economy. It impacts our quality of life, the competitiveness of our businesses and the safety and security of our country. Our leaders in Washington can no longer forsake their responsibility to invest in the nation’s infrastructure in a long-term, sustainable manner. AED members are ready to work with members of both parties to help make President Trump’s vision of a world-class infrastructure for the United States a reality. Further delay in Washington is unacceptable.”
American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President and CEO Pete Ruane said, “The ball is in Capitol Hill’s court. If scientists can clone monkeys, Congress ought to be able to figure out how to raise federal dollars to fix the Highway Trust Fund and modernize our choking National Freight Network. Those are the top two infrastructure priorities.”