Posts Tagged ‘Trump infrastructure plan’

Trying Again for an Infrastructure Plan

May 1, 2019

The Trump administration and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have reached an agreement in theory about at $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

However, the sides have yet to agree on how that plan would be funded. The agreement announced this week said Congress and the administration will work toward winking approval of the transportation infrastructure package.
Congressional leaders and President Trump plan to meet at an undisclosed time to discuss the administration’s ideas for paying for the infrastructure plan.

The administration released an infrastructure plan more than a year ago that won little support in Congress.

Critics noted that that plan relied heavily on state and local governments funding much of it.

Infrastructure Plan Being Talked About Again

December 10, 2018

Since Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in the November 2016 election, rumors and speculation have abounded about another attempt to pass an infrastructure stimulus program.

The Rail Passengers Association reported last week that the Democratic takeover of the house might lead to a bipartisan agreement with the Trump Administration.

The administration floated a plan early this year would have required cities and states to provide at least 80 percent of the funding for infrastructure projects, but that plan failed to gain traction in Congress.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), who is expected to become the next chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee, reportedly has told the administration that any infrastructure plan must  have “ . . . real money, real investment … [and] it needs to be done soon… This isn’t going to get done without support from the president.”

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), who is chair of an appropriations subcommittee that helps set funding levels for existing federal programs for roads, bridges and railroads expressed a similar sentiment, saying she is open to striking a deal.

An unnamed source said President Donald Trump is considering spending “buckets of money” on an infrastructure plan in advance of the 2020 election, which suggests he might be willing to strike a deal with House Democrats.

Trump Infrastructure Plan Gets Mixed Rerviews

February 14, 2018

The Trump Administration’s proposed infrastructure plan has been released to mixed reviews from the transportation sector.

A qualified positive review came from the Association of American Railroads, which called the plan a start in a discussion about infrastructure needs.

In a prepared statement, AAR President and CEO Edward Hamberger said the trade organization “particularly welcomes the efforts to streamline the federal permitting processes, including in the proposal’s attempt to codify executive orders into law while also strengthening existing processes.”

However, the American Public Transportation Association expressed concern about proposed “deep cuts” in federal programs that fund public transit infrastructure.

“The $200 billion proposed by the administration for infrastructure would be paid for by cutting funding for critical public transportation infrastructure programs, including the Capital Improvement Grants, Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, and Amtrak in the fiscal-year 2019 budget,” APTA said in a statement. “This would be a big mistake and counterproductive to fostering prosperous communities.”

APTA did commend the administration’s commitment to strengthening American infrastructure.

President Trump has proposed that states and local communities match federal funds they receive to implement infrastructure improvement projects. It is also seeking to encourage private-sector investors in public works projects.

The plan would expand the use of tax-exempt debt, allow states to add tolls on interstate highways, and make it easier to lease airports and other public assets.

The AAR said a key component of any infrastructure plan needs to be a long-term solution to shoring up the Highway Trust Fund.

It noted that such a proposal was not included in Trump’s infrastructure plan.

“Policymakers should make every effort to return surface transportation funding to a truly equitable, user-pay system as originally designed,” Hamberger said.

APTA said it will work toward a bipartisan solution that continues and expands the “historic federal support” that’s necessary to address public transit needs, including a $90 billion backlog of the transit industry’s state-of-good repair needs.

“Funding public transportation projects is aligned with the administration’s focus on funding major transformative projects, supporting rural communities, streamlining the federal permitting and approval processes, and investing in a high-skilled, competitive workforce,” APTA said. “We are encouraged by specific provisions in the proposal related to public transportation, including streamlining, preserving and expanding the CIG pilot program and eliminating constraints on private-public partnerships.”

Infrastructure Plan to be Revealed Today

February 12, 2018

The long-awaited Trump administration infrastructure plan will be revealed today and despite the $1.5 trillion benefits being touted by the president it is expected to provide a modest $200 billion in federal funding over the next 10 years.

The plan is already facing opposition in Congress from conservative Republicans who think the price tag is too high and Democrats who think it is not enough.

Aside from being designed to bolster infrastructure spending, the plan also is designed to change the nature of the funding relationship between state and local governments, and the federal government.

For decades, infrastructure projects have received large chunks of funding from federal money.

But the Trump infrastructure proposal would limit the federal share to 20 percent of a project’s cost.

Critics contend the plan will also encourage a wave of toll roads and bridges to pay for some road projects.

Also expected to be in the proposal is a relaxation of environmental rules surrounding infrastructure plans. The administration wants to reduce the time needed for an environmental review to no more than two years.

Trump has acknowledged that the $200 billion in federal aid is not a large amount and has also spoke of paying for the plan by making unspecified budget cuts elsewhere.

A White House official told reporters during a briefing on Saturday about the proposal that Trump’s infrastructure plan isn’t an all or nothing thing.

“This is the start of a negotiation — bicameral, bipartisan negotiation — to find the best solution for infrastructure in the U.S.,” the official said.

The official said Trump “is open to new sources of funding.” However, he downplayed an increase in the gasoline tax as has been proposed by some, including House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Schuster and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The funding from the infrastructure plan would not be limited to transportation projects.

It would fund such things as broadband in rural areas and aim to encourage apprenticeships and other forms of workforce training as well as pay for unspecified “transformative,” “next-century-type” projects that would “lift the American spirit,” a White House official said.

What is to be released today is a statement of principles that Congress will work into legislation.

That means the proposal will be overseen by 11 House and Senate committees, all of which are likely to have their own visions for what the infrastructure plan should and shouldn’t be.

The administration is planning to hold a briefing with state and local officials this morning and to engage in a campaign on behalf of the plan from Trump and members of his cabinet.

Cabinet members are expected to fan out across the country to talk about infrastructure needs.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has said the backlog of needed infrastructure projects amounts to $4.59 trillion in needed investments by 2025.

Trump Offers Broad Glimpse of Instrastructure Plan

February 1, 2018

As expected President Donald Trump in his state of the union speech before Congress this week called for legislation to modernize the nation’s infrastructure.

Trump did not give any details about the proposal. Administration sources have said that those will come sometime after the speech.

“We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways and waterways across our land,” Trump said.

During his address, Trump called for a bill that will result in “at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need.”

He acknowledged as has been reported by multiple sources that his plan will call for using federal funding to match money put up by state and local governments, as well as the private sector.

Some reports citing a leaked document said the federal match will be no more than 20 percent per project.

Trump described this as a way “to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit.”

He also said the bill also should shorten time needed to issue permits and grant approvals for projects to no more than two years.

Infrastructure Plan Details Leaked

January 23, 2018

What was purported to be a copy of the long awaited Trump administration infrastructure plan was leaked on Tuesday and it shows that federal grants cannot make up more than 20 percent of the cost of any project.

If so, that would mean that the federal government could end up contributing less to infrastructure projects than it does today. Under current rules, the federal share of some projects is as much as 50 percent for new transit projects.

The six-page plan was first reported by the website Axios and does not provide any details about cost. Much of the contents of the plan are consistent with news reports and public statements made by federal officials.

For example the plan would devote a quarter of the funding to rural infrastructure projects.  Also as has been previously reported, the plan would give states more authority to impose tolls on highways that receive federal funding.

Specifically, the documents calls for states to have “flexibility” to collect interstate tolls and to use toll revenues to fund infrastructure projects.

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump had pledged a $1 trillion infrastructure plan but in recent weeks there has been talk that the federal share of the plan will be only $200 million over a 10-year period.

The leaked copy of the plan outlines use of federal grants to spur state, local, and private investment. Aside from transportation, the funds could be used for broadband installation, water projects, waste treatment programs, electric transmission lines and veteran’s affairs facilities.

Reuters reporter David Shepardson was skeptical that the document was written by a government agency, saying it appears to have been based on a Legislative Referral Memorandum that has been making the rounds.

Information in the document suggests that it was written on Jan. 8 and lists the name of a Washington lobbyist as the author. Neither that lobbyist nor the White House would comment on the document.

Ten percent of the funding would be used for what is termed a Transformative Projects Program that focuses on innovative or “ground-breaking” infrastructure projects that might be riskier investments for private entities, but “offer a larger reward profile.”

Also included in the plan is the use of tax incentives for private investors, including expanding the use of private activity bonds, and the creation of a new “Public Lands Infrastructure Fund,” which would put aside money from mineral and energy extraction on federal lands and waters.

There is no proposal to increase the federal gasoline tax as some, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have proposed as a way of shoring up the sagging Highway Trust Fund. The gas tax has not risen in more than two decades.

It is still not clear when the Trump administration will release the plan, but some believe it will be following the State of the Union address. Trump is expected to touch upon infrastructure in that speech to Congress.

Nor is it clear what type of reception that the plan will receive in Congress. The Hill website noted that Congress has historically been loath to expand the use of tolls to pay for infrastructure projects.

Infrastructure Plan Seen as $200B Federal Share

January 17, 2018

Early reports on the size of the infrastructure plan expected to be proposed by the Trump administration indicate that it will earmark $200 billion in federal spending which is well below the $1 trillion figure talked about earlier.

However, administration officials have been saying of late that they believe the federal investment will draw in state contributions and money from private investors that could boost infrastructure spending to $1 trillion.

The plan is expected to be release late this month or in early February.

The ranking Senate Democrat on the committee that will oversee the plan is already talking it down, saying it is far less than what the nation needs.

“I think most people understand if we want to have better roads, highways, bridges, trains  . . . we gotta pay for them,” said Tom Carper (D-Delware), who sits on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Carper also is a member of the Senate Finance Committee that would authorize funding for the infrastructure bill.

Carper, who commutes on Amtrak to Washington, told Politico that he hopes Trump will propose a serious infrastructure proposal that will attract Democratic support.

The infrastructure plan might also allow for an expanded of charging tolls to help pay for the projects.

“I think the idea of using tolling for new road construction is probably a pretty good idea, and acceptable,” Carper said. “Especially now that we have the technology.”

Senate, Chao Talk About Infrastructure Plan

January 10, 2018

Talks between members of the U.S. Senate and the Trump administration about the latter’s proposed infrastructure package were held this week on Capitol Hill, although few details of those discussions have been released.

Speaking for the administration was Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who was joined by other administration officials.

Although news media reports have said the infrastructure plan is expected to be $1 trillion, some recent reports have put the size of the package at a lower figure, perhaps no more than $200 million.

There has been speculation that the package will be rolled out in the coming weeks, probably after the state of the union address on Jan. 30.

Senator John Barrasso, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said in a statement that the meeting featured “a direct back-and-forth with administration leadership on their priorities.”

Senator Tom Carper, the ranking minority party member of the committee, said in a statement that, “While there is no shortage of issues on which the president and I disagree, the kind of large scale trillion-dollar infrastructure investment that then-candidate Trump talked about is something that has the potential to elicit bipartisan support here in Congress.”

More than 150 national trade organizations, including some in the railroad and railroad supply industries, have urged Congress to approve an infrastructure investment package.

GOP at Odds Over Infrastructure Plan

January 9, 2018

Republicans appear to be at odds over a much talked about but yet to be revealed infrastructure revitalization plan from the Trump administration.

Administration officials said that during a parley between President Trump and congressional GOP leaders at Camp David last weekend that Trump told the legislators that he does not believe that public-private partnerships work for all infrastructure projects.

Yet some members of the administration argued during the meetings for public-private partnerships.

The Washington Post reported that National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn gave a presentation focused solely on public-private partnerships.

He reportedly said that a proposal by entrepreneur Elon Musk to create an underground high-speed transportation corridor between New York and Washington “won’t cost the taxpayers anything” because the private sector will build it.

Cohn has at times called for raising the Federal gasoline tax to fund infrastructure, but it is not clear if he discussed this at Camp David.

In the meantime, some legislators are pushing their own proposals.

Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, proposed diverting some $2 billion in foreign aid that Trump is withholding from Pakistan, to use in “building bridges and railroads” in the United States.

Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican who is chair of the House Appropriations Committee, has stood up for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Gateway Project.

He said “it will be the committee’s responsibility to see that such national priorities are met.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently asserted that a 50-50 agreement between the federal government and states of New Jersey and New York to split funding a rail tunnel project into New York City does not exist.

DOT described the proposed $29 billion project as “a project of 90 percent local significance.”

Trump Meets to Talk Infrastructure Plan

December 13, 2017

News reports said that President Donald Trump met this week with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster to discuss the administration’s infrastructure proposal.

The administration has proposed using $200 billion in federal funds to leverage $1 trillion worth of infrastructure improvements.

Trump had indicated last month that once a tax bill had passed Congress that his administration would be ready to focus on the infrastructure plan.