WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Monday unveailed a massive infrastructure plan that aims to rehabilitate the nation’s roads, bridges, tunnels, and airports (https://tinyurl.com/y9442k9f).
If passed, the plan would generate $1.5 trillion toward the improvement of roads, bridges, waterways, electrical grids and other projects.
The plan does not disclose exactly where the funds would come from, but the White House said the monies would be pulled from “existing government spending,” extracted from the federal budget. The remainder, says the White House, would be left accountable to the states.
Trump’s plan is contradictory to typical spending on infrastructure, as, up until now, the federal government has typically covered the bulk of such costs. If implemented, local governments would now take on 80% or more of the costs of funding such projects.
“It could be anything,” an administration official said of the non-federal funding sources. “What we’re saying to states is, we would like you to increase your investment in infrastructure.”
Another major concentration of Trump’s infrastructure plan is the expediting of the approval process for bigger projects, specifically the cutting down of regulatory red tape. The White House says part of its stated goal is to streamline approval of such projects from the current five to 10 years, down to two. The plan calls for one agency to make the final approvals on such permitting — which the White House refers to as the “one agency, one decision” approach.
Despite the mutually agreed upon need for improvement to the nation’s infrastructure, the 53-page is already proving to be a tough sell to Democrats.
“This is not a real infrastructure plan — it’s simply another scam, an attempt by this administration to privatize critical government functions, and create windfalls for their buddies on Wall Street,” Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat who serves on the House Transportation Committee said Sunday.
“This fake proposal will not address the serious infrastructure needs facing this country, so our potholed roads will get worse, our bridges and transit systems will become more dangerous, and our tolls will become higher. And Wall Street? They’ll throw another party,” DeFazio added.
“I think [the budget deal] does hurt the chances for an infrastructure package to get done, unless you use the money we’re just now spending,” House Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina told Axios. “I think there’s not going to be the appetite to continue to add additional monies without real offsets.”
Despite the pushback, President Trump says an overhaul traditional infrastructure programs is long overdue.
“The current system is fundamentally broken and it’s broken in two different ways,” a senior administration official told reporters on Saturday. “We are underinvesting in our infrastructure, and we have a permitting process that takes so long that even when funds are adequate, it can take a decade to build critical infrastructure.”
“For too long, lawmakers have invested in infrastructure inefficiently, ignored critical needs, and allowed it to deteriorate,” the president said in a note to Congress introducing the plan. “It is time to give Americans the working, modern infrastructure they deserve.”
In a briefing on the matter, the White House said the plan would require both actions by Congress and regulatory changes that could be accomplished under executive order.
“This will be a big week for Infrastructure,” Trump tweeted Monday morning ahead of the plan’s release (https://tinyurl.com/yby6d7xh). “After so stupidly spending $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is now time to start investing in OUR Country!”