State of the Union Speech Features Call for Infrastructure Cooperation

During his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump declared “both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure.” 

Trump told lawmakers that taking no action on infrastructure “is not an option.” 

“I know that the Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill – and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting edge industries of the future,” Trump stated. “This is not an option. This is a necessity.” 

Unfortunately, Trump did not offer any concrete proposals during his speech.

“Tonight the President issued a bipartisan call to repair and restore America’s aging infrastructure,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao. “Over the last two years, due to the President’s policies, our economy has generated historic levels of economic and job growth for Americans and widespread private sector investment. This success is enabled by America’s transportation sector, but aging and insufficient infrastructure threatens to impede future growth. To keep pace with the needs of a growing economy, this administration is committed to improvements that address all facets of infrastructure, from the needs of rural America to the opportunities of innovative technology. We look forward to working across the aisle towards cooperative solutions this year.”

Responding to Trump’s speech, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the new House Transportation Committee chairman, promised to work on a bipartisan infrastructure package, “but I can’t do it alone,” he said. “This will require massive effort from the White House, stakeholders and supporters in Congress to get something real across the finish line.” 

Senators said while there’s support for rebuilding roads, bridges and other infrastructure, there’s no consensus on how to pay for it when the Congressional Budget Office projects that the federal deficit will grow to $897 billion in 2019.

“I think it’s obvious that a lot of our infrastructure is crumbling and needs repairs, but how do you fund it when you’re spending on other things as well?” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). “If you’re ever going to borrow money for something it should be for a capital good, but when you’re borrowing so much money … it makes it pretty challenging.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), said the president needs to offer a viable proposal to pay for an infrastructure package.“I didn’t see the money. I’d love to. I think everyone wants to do one. Everyone knows we need one but I didn’t see any money. How is it funded? Funding is the problem,” he said. 

The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) was quick to weigh in on the speech. “The president encouraged Congress to set aside their politics and unite to repair bridges, roads and all of America’s outdated, overburdened and crumbling infrastructure,” said NSSGA President and CEO Michael W. Johnson, IOM. “A collective commitment and bipartisan compromise are essential to finally making the much overdue and badly needed investment required if the United States is going to continue to be the strongest economy and the most secure nation in the world.” 

“NSSGA stands ready to work with those who understand that significant infrastructure investment is not just about restoring quality of life in the present but, equally if not more importantly, about insuring economic and national security for the future. Nations that would very much like to experience our prosperity, but do not necessarily share our values, are strategically investing in infrastructure in effort to gain a competitive advantage. The president and Congress must come together to do the same. The cost of continuing to do nothing is truly the only cost that is too much to bear,” Johnson said.

“The President’s state of the Union Address is once again, making transportation infrastructure investment a top national priority,” said Jim Tymon, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) executive director. “Transportation has long been a bipartisan concern and this year, with the Administration’s support, a transportation bill can be that rare opportunity to bring members of Congress together from both sides of the aisle. AASHTO and its member state departments of transportation stand ready to work with the Administration and Congress on a national plan to shore up the Highway Trust Fund and make the investments needed to modernize our aging transportation infrastructure.”

The Portland Cement Association (PCA) applauded President Trump for emphasizing the political imperative of addressing America’s long-neglected infrastructure needs. “America’s cement manufacturers are ready and willing to work with Congress and the Trump Administration to find a legislative solution that shores up our transportation and waterways in a fiscally responsible manner,” said PCA President and CEO Michael Ireland. 

“AED commends President Trump for once again highlighting the decrepit state of our nation’s infrastructure and for calling on lawmakers to provide the resources necessary to rebuild America,” said Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) President and CEO Brian P. McGuire. “With economic growth, quality of life and international competitiveness at stake, further delay is unacceptable. The American people demand results and it’s time for talk and promises to finally turn into congressional action by providing the essential investments needed to return the United States’ infrastructure to the envy of the world.”

American Road & Transportation Builders Association President and CEO Dave Bauer said, “Good public policy is most often achieved when there is common ground. New public opinion research finds that 90 percent of the American people want the Democratic leadership in Congress and President Trump to work together during 2019 to pass legislation to improve roads, bridges and transit systems. When 90 percent of the country agrees on something, it’s a clear call to action. A permanent revenue solution to the chronic shortfall plaguing the Highway Trust Fund should be the foundational priority for any infrastructure package. It’s time to stop talking about investing in infrastructure and get to work fixing it.”

Equipment manufacturers want President Trump and the Democrats to work together this year to pass legislation to support 1.3 million equipment manufacturing jobs and keep our nation strong. “Without everyone working together, the American worker and U.S. consumers will bear the brunt of continued D.C. gridlock, ” said Dennis Slater, president of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. “We urge both Republicans and Democrats to find common ground on solutions that will rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, create greater access to free trade, bolster the U.S. economy, and secure comprehensive tax reform that levels the playing field for our industry in a globally competitive business environment.”

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