Trump Wants $1.5 Trillion for Infrastructure in Bipartisan Bill

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By Shaun Courtney

Congress should put forward a $1.5 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in 2018, President Donald Trump said during a joint session of Congress in his first State of the Union Speech.

“I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve,” Trump said during his address to Congress.

The administration has previously called for a $200 billion federal investment to leverage private, state and local funding to get to a $1 trillion package, a message the president echoed in his address.

The administration will come to Congress with its plan within a week or two of the speech, DJ Gribbin, a special assistant to President Donald Trump for infrastructure policy, said Jan. 25 at a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington.

Lawmakers React

The $1.5 trillion spend on infrastructure is a “bold number, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the chairman of the House subcommittee on highways and transit, said in an interview with Bloomberg Government. “Its going to take some work to get there, if we can get there.”

He was optimistic they House could pass a bipartisan bill, if not this spring then this summer.

Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) was less bullish.

“They don’t have a plan,” DeFazio told reporters after the speech. “It’s a bigger fake plan now, it’s a $1.5 trillion dollar fake plan as opposed to a $1 trillion fake plan.”

Industry Reacts

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials reiterated their call for a long-term fix for the Highway Trust Fund as part of an infrastructure package, while also expressing enthusiasm for regulatory streamlining.

“We are looking forward to seeing the president’s infrastructure plan and working closely with the administration and Congress to advance a robust, long-term infrastructure bill that supports needed reforms such as streamlining project delivery in ways that also protect our natural resources,” Bud Wright, AASHTO executive director, said in a statement.

Groups from the Chamber of Commerce to the American Public Transportation Association to the American Trucking Associations, called on lawmakers to raise the gas tax to bolster the highway trust fund. The president referenced the trust fund, asking Congress to “permanently fix the infrastructure deficit,” but did not mention the gas tax.

The American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) jumped at Trump’s call for non-federal pay-fors like tolls and user fees. The group called for an increase in the passenger facility charge (PFC), which airports use to fund infrastructure projects. The PFC rate has been set at $4.50 since 2000.

“With constrained federal resources, including a PFC increase as part of the final infrastructure package should be a no-brainer,” Todd Hauptli, AAAE president & CEO, said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shaun Courtney in Washington at scourtney@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at phendrie@bgov.com

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