Two years after his earlier proposal for comprehensive infrastructure legislation died in Congress, President Trump has renewed the call for a bill that would fund highway, road, and bridge construction projects across the country.
In a press conference, Trump said such legislation could serve as an economic stimulus for a nation currently reeling from the impact of the coronavirus.
“We redo our roads, our highways, our bridges. We fix up tunnels which are, many of them in bad shape, like coming into New York, as you know,” Trump said of the projects he’d like to see funded.
In a tweet, the President argued that with “interest rates for the United States being at zero, this is the time to do our decades-long awaited infrastructure bill.”
Trump is proposing a $2 trillion infrastructure package that he additionally said should be “very big and bold,” with a focus on “rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our country.”
While Trump’s earlier proposal went nowhere in Congress due to a lack of support for increasing the federal fuel tax as a means of paying for new infrastructure projects, this measure may find better sailing owing to its presentation as stimulus legislation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that for any infrastructure bill to secure support it would have to include funding for “water systems that are so essential,” as well as “broadband because so many people are relying upon telecommunication and social media and the rest.”
If an infrastructure bill is presented in Congress, it would be as part of a Phase 4 stimulus effort.
Phase 1 saw the passage of an $8.3 billion bill designed to spur COVID-19 research and development. Phase 2 targeted paying for emergency sick leave for some workers as well as funding state unemployment insurance funds.
The $2 trillion Phase 3 includes direct relief for U.S. workers as well as funds for hospitals and small business loans.
A Phase 4 bill would most likely not only include infrastructure funding, but also money for states contending with the coronavirus.
Any new infrastructure legislation will not be taken up by Congress until at least April 20, after members return from a scheduled recess.
By Garry Boulard
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