Trying to reignite a program for rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, President Trump in his State of the Union address declared that Democrats and Republicans “should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure.”
“I know that Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill,” the President continued, “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.”
No specifics of the plan were given.
An early 2018 White House proposal to target $1.5 trillion on rebuilding bridges and roads met with Congressional opposition when the administration emphasized that state and local governments should take on a larger share of project costs.
Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors, lauded Trump’s infrastructure mention in his address, noting that “one of the most effective ways to ensure continued economic growth is through making needed investments in our roads, bridges, water systems, and other public infrastructure.”
Sanherr urged Congressional action on “new, bipartisan, infrastructure legislation.”
Marshall Doney, the chief executive officer of the American Automobile Association, said he was “pleased to hear infrastructure mentioned as a priority during the State of the Union address.”
Doney added: “We know that there is bipartisan support for transportation infrastructure investment and it is time for the government to act.”
But Congressman Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a frequent administration critic, said no infrastructure bill can move forward if steps weren’t first taken to address “the looming crisis facing the Highway Trust Fund.”
DeFazio noted that the U.S. currently faces a “$1 trillion surface transportation investment gap over the next 10 years to fix the infrastructure we have, meet future needs, and restore our global competitiveness.”
“Any serious infrastructure proposal,” DeFazio added, “must provide sustainable, long-term federal funding so we can make these necessary investments, create millions of living-wage American jobs, increase economic growth, and decrease congestion and emissions.”
The Scientific American lauded mention of infrastructure in the State of the Union address, but criticized Trump for not mentioning climate change.
“The issues are intimately related,” the magazine said. “Experts say the impacts of climate change—including floods, wildfires, and sea-level rise—could place a big strain on the nation’s aging infrastructure.”
Meanwhile, Dan Clifton, policy research head at Strategas Research Partners, a New York-based firm focusing on investment and policy research, told CNBC that unless the Administration “specifically backs raising the gasoline or corporate tax rate,” it is unlikely to win passage of a comprehensive infrastructure bill.
By Garry Boulard
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