The $1.4 Billion Transit Fund the U.S. Government Won’t Release

Source: Laura Bliss, CityLab, August 15, 2018 

Like a nasty pothole, Trump’s unkept promises on road-and-rail dollars have given transportation fans a mild case of whiplash. But there may be worse harm in another infrastructure lapse on the part of this administration, this one more basic: $1.4 billion promised to transit projects across the U.S., still unallocated by the Federal Transit Administration for no clear reason. From New York to Los Angeles, El Paso to Minneapolis, 17 rail and rapid bus projects are awaiting grants promised by the federal appropriations bill signed into law by Trump in March 2018. But the funds have still not been delivered nearly five months later. Make that 144 days, 20 hours, and 15 minutes later, as of this writing, according to a splashy countdown clock built by Transportation For America, a progressive transportation policy organization. …


Shovels Down: White House Drives Dagger Into Infrastructure Bill
Source: John T. Bennett, Roll Call, May 25, 2018
The White House formally drove a dagger into the passage this year of the kind of massive infrastructure package called for by President Donald Trump. What is on the White House’s legislative agenda for the rest of the year includes another tax package, a farm bill, more federal judiciary nominations — and possibly immigration legislation. White House legislative affairs chief Marc Short told reporters Friday that infrastructure will slide into 2019. He blamed election-year politics, saying Democrats have signaled in recent conversations they are uninterested in handing Trump a victory ahead of the midterm elections. …

Opinion: Rebuilding Schools, Bridges—and Lives
Source: Richard Trumka and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2018

As unions, businesses, engineers and policy makers celebrate Infrastructure Week from May 14-21, we’re reflecting on the investments that add value to America. For every dollar a country spends on public infrastructure, it gets back nearly $3, according to a 2014 study from the International Monetary Fund. Keep this in mind when you hear that the American Society of Civil Engineers, or ASCE, has called for $2 trillion to repair, renovate or replace water lines, public schools, bridges and mass transit systems. On top of that, another $2 trillion could make America the global leader in the infrastructure technologies of the future, such as high-speed rail and smart utilities. … When you see that the ASCE’s infrastructure report card gives the nation overall a D+, don’t hang your head. The U.S. can get that grade up. But it won’t happen with a plan like President Trump’s , which would cut Washington’s contribution to infrastructure projects from 80% to 20%, quadrupling the burden on cash-strapped cities and states. The true way forward is to do the opposite: Put the federal government back in the business of building America’s future. …

States That Raise Tolls and Taxes Will Have an Edge in Getting DOT Funds 
Source: Ted Mann, Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2018

States and cities that raise taxes and tolls will have a better chance at winning federal money for roads and bridges, part of a Trump administration strategy to have states carry a bigger portion of infrastructure spending. The move is a result of a Transportation Department overhaul to a popular infrastructure grant program, giving it a new name and tweaking the criteria that will determine which project applications will win federal funding. Under the overhaul, which was launched last week, applicants for grants this year will be judged in part on whether they can show that they have generated “new, non-Federal revenue” to help cover project costs, according to a DOT document. That will mean local agencies that raise taxes or tolls to pay for bridges, transit lines or road improvements will be more likely to win some of the $1.5 billion pool of funding authorized for the program this year. …

Trump infrastructure policy adviser to leave White House
Source: Mallory Shelbourne, The Hill, April 3, 2018
DJ Gribbin, President Trump’s infrastructure policy adviser, is departing the White House as the administration’s rebuilding plan appears to have hit a wall in Congress. Gribbin, who led the Trump administration’s push for an infrastructure proposal that was released in February, is “moving on to new opportunities,” according to a White House official. …

Trump embraces piecemeal approach on infrastructure plan to Ohio workers
Source: Alexander Mallin, ABC News, March 29, 2018
After five days with no public appearances on his schedule, President Donald Trump arrived in Richfield, Ohio, Thursday to speak with local workers and make a renewed public relations push for his administration’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. “We will transform our roads and bridges from a source of endless frustration into a source of absolutely incredible pride,” Trump said to members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18. “There is no better place to begin this campaign than right here in Ohio, at this state-of-the-art training site — they’ve done a fantastic job right in this building — where the awesome skills of the American worker are forged and refined.” Acknowledging the legislative reality that Congress may not have the appetite for a bulk overhaul of the nation’s infrastructure, President Trump told the crowd he would be open to a more piecemeal approach.

White House Tempers Hopes on Quick Infrastructure Action
Source: Ted Mann and Louise Radnofsky, Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2018
As President Donald Trump prepares to pitch his plans for overhauling the country’s infrastructure in a Midwest swing this week, the president’s advisers are tempering hopes that they can pass a comprehensive legislative package before the midterm elections this fall. Mr. Trump will head to Richfield, Ohio, on Thursday to promote his administration’s plan, which would spend $200 billion over a decade, largely on incentives for states and cities to raise their own funds to construct and repair roads, bridges, dams and railroads. But the timeline on the president’s infrastructure push—once slated for delivery early in his first year in office—continues to slip. …

Trump Infrastructure Plan Likely Will Keep Wage Protections
Source: Chris Opfer, Workplace Law Report, March 15, 2018
The Trump administration won’t try to water down prevailing wage protections for construction and other workers as part of its $1.5 trillion infrastructure spending plan, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said March 14. “I obviously think this bill needs to be done on a bipartisan basis and you’re telling me that without that protection it would be hard to achieve,” Chao said in response to a question from Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.). Peters asked Chao if she would agree to “protect” prevailing wage rate requirements on government projects as a “critical component” of any infrastructure spending measure. Acosta said he agreed that the “bill needs to go forward on a bipartisan basis.” …

Trump Cabinet members press Senate panel on infrastructure overhaul
Source: Mallory Shelbourne, The Hill, March 14, 2018
A Senate panel on Wednesday heard five different Trump Cabinet members press hard on the need for an infrastructure overhaul.  Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was joined by four other Cabinet members at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, as Chao testified for the third time this month on the administration’s infrastructure proposal. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue also made the case for President Trump’s rebuilding blueprint, which allocates $200 billion in federal seed money that the administration argues will lead to a $1.5 trillion overhaul. But neither the administration nor lawmakers have identified a clear revenue stream for Trump’s plan, which seeks to incentivize both local and private investment. …

Trump to Promote Infrastructure Plan as Lawmakers Seek Funding
Source: Mark Niquette, Bloomberg, March 14, 2018
The White House says Donald Trump will campaign to pass legislation this year to upgrade roads, bridges and other public works, as members of Congress from both parties say it will only happen with a push from the president. The president plans to travel around the country to promote his proposal ahead of the congressional election in November, White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short said in an interview Tuesday. An event to roll out Trump’s plan was canceled last month after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. … Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and three other cabinet secretaries will go before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Wednesday to discuss the plan to provide at least $200 billion in federal funds over 10 years, mostly to spur at least $1.5 trillion in spending by states, localities and the private sector. The plan also would cut the process of issuing permits for projects to two years. …

Why local governments don’t think Trump’s infrastructure plan will work for them
Source: Brian Tumulty, Bond Buyer, March 13, 2018 (Subscription required)
Some local governments won’t be able to participate in the Trump administration’s proposed competitive matching grants for infrastructure projects because they simply don’t have the money needed for their share of the funding, their officials said on Tuesday. They talked about the president’s plan at the National League of Cities conference here during a panel discussion about the new limitations placed on local governments by the tax law changes enacted in December. The Trump plan proposes only a 20% federal share, leaving local governments to come up with 80% of their own money or in partnership with the state and private investors. …

Ryan Says Infrastructure Overhaul Will Be Done in 5 to 6 Bills
Source: Lindsey McPherson and Jacob Fischler, Roll Call, March 8, 2018
Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Thursday affirmed House Republicans’ intentions to complete an infrastructure overhaul this year but said that the effort will be broken into pieces.  “We don’t want to do one big bill,” the Wisconsin Republican said at an event in Georgia with Home Depot employees. Rather, Ryan said the infrastructure overhaul will be tackled in five to six bills.  “We think it’s easier to break it into pieces,” he said.  The effort will start “in about a week and a half” with a short-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, whose authorization is scheduled to expire March 31. …

AFSCME President Lee Saunders Praises Senate Democratic Infrastructure Plan
Source: AFSCME Press Release, March 7, 2018
AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement praising the infrastructure plan released today by Senate Democrats: “This is a bold, comprehensive plan that will create 15 million good paying jobs by reclaiming recent corporate tax giveaways and investing those funds back into our nation’s communities, including in our roads, bridges, transit, schools and water systems. It ensures strong labor protections and puts the public interest first, rather than selling off the nation’s assets to private interests. “The plan also pays for infrastructure the right way by making the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share of taxes and ends special privileges for Wall Street so that real work will be done on main street. We look forward to working with the Senate to strengthen and pass this critical plan.” …

Senate Democrats pitch repeal of tax cuts to fund infrastructure
Source: Toby Eckert, Politico, March 7, 2018
Senate Democrats unveiled on Wednesday a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that would be funded by repealing numerous tax cuts Republicans pushed through Congress last year. The plan would return the top individual tax rate to 39.6 percent, set the corporate tax rate at 25 percent, go back to 2017 law for the Alternative Minimum Tax, undo the exemption increase for the estate tax and end the beneficial tax treatment of carried interest. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the plan would fund investments in roads, bridges, schools, airports and “universal” high-speed internet, among other things. “We want to roll back the Republican tax giveaways to big corporations and the wealthy and invest that money instead in job-creating infrastructure,” Schumer said at a press conference with several senior Senate Democrats. …

Trump’s Proposed Tariffs Risk Hurting Infrastructure Plan
Source: David Harrison, Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2018
President Donald Trump burnished his tough-on-trade image last week by declaring he would impose tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum imports. But the move could undermine another part of his “America First” economic agenda: Rebuilding U.S. infrastructure. Tariffs on imported aluminum and steel could drive up the cost of infrastructure investments, accentuating price pressures already brought on by a growing global economy. Over the past year, an improved economic outlook around the world has raised demand for globally traded products used in construction, such as oil or steel. Higher demand in the U.S., meanwhile, has propped up prices for concrete and other materials, making it more expensive to build roads, bridges, schools, health centers and other facilities when U.S. infrastructure is rapidly aging. …

Senate Republican says U.S. infrastructure bill may not pass this year
Source: David Shepardson, Reuters, February 27, 2018

The U.S. Senate’s second highest-ranking Republican on Tuesday expressed doubt that Congress will pass legislation to increase infrastructure spending this year, citing time constraints. Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, told reporters: “I think it will (be) challenging. I certainly would be happy if we could, but we’ve got a lot of things to do, that being one of them, and I don’t know if we will have time to get to that,” according to a transcript from his office. President Donald Trump wants Congress to approve $200 billion in federal spending over 10 years designed to spur $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending. But the bill faces strong opposition from Democrats. Under Senate rules, legislation will need the support of at least nine Democrats. …

Truckers Propose a Gasoline Tax Increase to Pay for Infrastructure Plan
Source: Paul Page, Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2018
The country’s biggest trucking group thinks it has a way to convince Republicans to raise the gasoline tax: Don’t call it a tax. The American Trucking Associations, reviving an argument in Washington that’s older than some roads, is pressing lawmakers and the White House to gradually increase fuel levies in steps by 20 cents a gallon to raise $340 billion over 10 years for infrastructure spending. But the effort may be as futile as trying to start an 18-wheeler with an empty gas tank. President Donald Trump’s administration wants to spend $200 billion to build and maintain highways, bridges, ports and other infrastructure projects, with a goal of spurring local governments and private interests to supply additional funding. However, Mr. Trump’s plan doesn’t specify where the federal money would come from, and interest groups are jockeying to influence that process. …

Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Is Great, Unless You Want Actually Functioning Infrastructure
Source: Michelle Chen, The Nation, February 16, 2018
When politicians roll out their glossy infrastructure plans, they tend to bite off more than they can chew. President Trump’s new plan just orders everything on the menu, leaves after a few bites, and sticks taxpayers with the bill. Not only does his 50-page plan offer no new ideas or a concrete vision for investing in urgent infrastructural needs, it also shovels more authority to corporations for yet another spending spree on the public dime.  Trump’s agenda starts with an absurdly low sum of $200 billion, and Trump expects to conjure up the remaining trillion with an “incentive” scheme that would dangle about half of the federal funds before private firms for open-ended, deregulated projects. The plan promises to lard up the conventional bond structure to open more public resources to private financing. This corporate handout is also constrained by an overarching asymmetrical state-federal split. Now, with 80 percent of funds to be generated from non-federal sources, according to an analysis by In the Public Interest (ITPI), “Many cities and states will be unable to generate sufficient new revenues to meet infrastructure needs, especially as the new tax law increases the tax burden on many families.” …

Trump’s latest strike against regulations: His infrastructure plan
Source: ANNIE SNIDER and ANTHONY ADRAGNA, Politico, February 16, 2018
President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan would trigger one of the most significant regulation rollbacks in decades, benefiting not just roads and bridges, but businesses ranging from coal mines to homebuilders to factories.  The blueprint the White House released this week would eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to veto the Army Corps of Engineers’ wetlands permits, a power that the EPA wielded during the Obama administration to block a controversial mountaintop coal mine in West Virginia. Industrial facilities like coal plants and steel factories could get 15-year Clean Water Act pollution permits — up from five years — that would be automatically renewed. For some infrastructure permits, the deadline for opponents to file legal challenges would shrink from six years to 150 days…..

Should America Sell Its Existing Roads to Pay for New Ones?
Source: Cezary Podkul, Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2018
When President Donald Trump unveiled his long-anticipated infrastructure plan on Monday, there was one word that caught the attention of many investors: “recycling.”  It isn’t the garbage variety. Since early last year, infrastructure fund managers, bankers and lobbyists have been pitching the administration on the concept of infrastructure asset recycling. … The federal government would set up a pot of money to give state and local governments a bonus payment when they privatize or lease one of their existing assets to investors. To earn the bonus, governments would have to commit to using the sale proceeds to fund new bridges, roads or other infrastructure projects in need of money.  President Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan stopped short of recommending such a fund. But it eased a requirement that investors who buy or lease public infrastructure assets must repay all their existing tax-exempt debt—an expensive proposition that makes such deals harder to finance. The plan proposes governments could recycle deal proceeds into new projects, and if they do, the tax-exempt debt could remain outstanding. …

Trump urges GOP to consider a 25-cent hike in the gas tax
Source: Heather Long, Washington Post, February 14, 2018
President Trump tried Wednesday to persuade his fellow Republicans to raise the gas tax. In a closed-door meeting on infrastructure with members of both parties, Trump pitched the idea of a 25-cent increase in the gas tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1993. There’s a growing rift among Republicans about whether it’s worth considering a tax hike to fund much-needed upgrades to America’s roads and bridges.  “To my surprise, President Trump, today in our meeting, offered his support for raising the gas and diesel tax by 25 cents a gallon and dedicating that money to improve our roads, highways and bridges,” said Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) …

Lawmakers Consider Carving Up Trump’s Infrastructure Proposal
Source: Ted Mann and Natalie Andrews, Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2018
The Trump administration this week laid out an infrastructure plan designed to win support from both parties: Republicans, who would like its plan to speed up environmental reviews, and Democrats who endorse its new pool of money for public-works projects.  Congressional leaders, though, have other ideas, and may divide the package into several pieces to get some of it passed in a tough legislative year, according to lawmakers and aides. The development could signal trouble for what the Trump administration hoped would be a single, comprehensive piece of legislation revising how public works are funded and built. …
Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Is to Spend Less on Infrastructure
Source: David Dayen, The Nation, February 13, 2018
When he finally unveiled his infrastructure plan on Monday, President Donald Trump offered cities and states negative $40 billion. Most media accounts have described it as a $1.5 trillion deal, but the plan’s proposed $200 billion spending must be weighed against the $240 billion in cuts to infrastructure laid out in Trump’s proposed budget, which was also released Monday, including $178 billion in cuts to transportation spending alone. … The halfhearted approach to infrastructure definitely shows. In fact, this is one area Democrats feared Trump would force them to make a hard choice between good policy and partisanship. But that dilemma never materialized, because it turns out that the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress don’t care enough about it to construct anything but a shell game. …

Infrastructure Plan Puts Onus on Local Governments
Source: Ted Mann, Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2018
The Trump administration released a long-awaited infrastructure plan on Monday that seeks to replace traditional federal publics-works programs with a new system of incentives intended to prod state and local governments to raise their own funds for physical improvements.  The administration says $100 billion in incentives over 10 years could yield more than $1 trillion in total investment in roads, bridges, rails and water systems, adding that Washington should provide assistance of no more than 20% of a new project’s cost. The plan would shift the responsibility for funding major new public works from the federal government to cities and states. Still, it wasn’t clear where the government would find the $200 billion in direct federal spending outlined in the plan. …

White House to Roll Out Trump Infrastructure Plan
Source: Rebecca Ballhaus and Ted Mann, Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2018
President Donald Trump is set Monday to unveil a program to transform how the nation’s infrastructure is funded and developed, but the initiative faces an uncertain road in Congress over finding the money to pay for it.  Mr. Trump will propose spending $200 billion over 10 years, most in the form of new, competitive grants designed to encourage states and cities to raise their own money for improving rails, airports, highways and water systems. The proposal also would expand federal loan programs for such projects.  The White House expects the spending to spark hundreds of billions more from local governments and private investors to pay for the upgrades, resulting in $1.5 trillion in new investment. …

Democrats Propose Their Own Trillion-dollar Infrastructure Plan Ahead of Trump
Source: Grace Guarnieri, Newsweek, February 8, 2018
Ahead of the release of President Donald Trump’s big infrastructure plan, congressional Democrats debuted their own plan, which would require $1 trillion in federal spending over the next decade as part of “A Better Deal” for America.   Trump’s plan— set to be released Monday— is expected to call for just $200 billion in federal funds over the next ten years, with a majority of the $1.5 trillion plan to be funded through state, local, and private investments. During a Thursday press conference, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic Policy & Communications Committee revealed an infrastructure package separate from that of the Trump administration.   “We have a comprehensive proposal that is transformational for America in what it proposes…The president talks a big act, but then he proposes a small bill, a small act of Congress,” Pelosi said at the Thursday press conference on Capitol Hill. …

Trump’s New York Tunnel War Shows Pitfalls of Infrastructure Plan
Source: Mark Niquette, Bloomberg, February 8, 2018
President Donald Trump’s war with his hometown over one of the nation’s priciest transportation projects shows the challenges ahead for his plan to upgrade crumbling public works by having locals pay more of the bill.  The $30 billion Gateway proposal, which includes a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River between New York City and New Jersey, has bogged down in an acrimonious fight with the states as Trump prepares to roll out his infrastructure plan on Monday. … LaHood said that the Gateway battle could be seen as both a political struggle between two New Yorkers, Trump and Schumer, and a striking example of the philosophical change the administration is trying to establish over the role of the federal government.  There are many large projects across the U.S. for which states and cities just don’t have the resources to build without federal help, LaHood said. It will be up to Congress, which will write and pass any infrastructure legislation, to decide whether Washington continues to play the role it has. …

How Trump has already scored a win on infrastructure
Source: Darius Dixon, Politico, February 6, 2018
The Republican tax cut could spark the multibillion-dollar infrastructure program that almost nobody expected.  Electric and gas utilities are finding themselves with vast amounts of excess cash as a side effect of last year’s tax code rewrite — money that could easily total tens of billions of dollars, based on initial corporate filings. Those funds could become available for a massive buildout of energy infrastructure, for projects such as modernizing the electric grid, installing pipelines or putting up wind farms.The cash surge could exceed anything that comes out of President Donald Trump’s still-unreleased $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan if that proposal runs aground in Congress. The debate about how to spend the utility windfall will take place in dozens of states and is already crossing ideological divides — environmental groups, for example, are discussing whether some money should go to uses like retraining displaced coal workers. …

America May Finally Be Ready To Fix Its Infrastructure. Too Bad The Timing Stinks.
Source: Evan Horowitz, FiveThirtyEight, February 5, 2018
Decades of underinvestment have left America with aging airports, buckling bridges, stalled subways — a veritable plague of inadequate infrastructure. On this, President Trump and his Democratic opponents in Congress actually agree. Which is why there is some hope for Trump’s appeal, during the State of the Union address, asking “both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.”  But fixing America’s infrastructure will cost trillions, which is one reason Washington has been kicking this can down the unpaved road for years. And while inking an infrastructure deal is tricky under the best of circumstances, now is a particularly bad time — because the economy is just too strong. …

… By setting its own spending priorities, the federal government would essentially be pulling resources away from activities preferred by businesses and individuals. … Whether that’s a useful shift depends on the relative value of these various activities. But there’s no avoiding the trade-offs. And that’s true regardless of how the government funds its infrastructure plans, whether through direct spending or by partnering with states and private businesses, as the Trump administration seems to prefer. That is not to suggest that such policy details are irrelevant: Effective public-private partnerships require a tricky balance between allowing private companies to profit and ensuring that rich and poor alike are given fair access to the resulting infrastructure; new government borrowing could make it more expensive for private companies to borrow — which would mean fewer productive investments. …

Trump’s $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Plan Is Light on Federal Funds, and Details
Source: Jim Tankersley and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, New York Times, January 31, 2018
President Trump’s long-awaited plan for overhauling the nation’s crumbling infrastructure includes spending $200 billion in federal money over the next decade to spur an additional $1.3 trillion in spending from cities, states and private companies on major projects, White House officials said on Wednesday, a formula that faces long odds on Capitol Hill.  The increased infrastructure spending would be offset by unspecified budget cuts. Officials would not detail where those cuts would come from, or how the proposal would effectively leverage at least $6.50 in additional infrastructure spending for every dollar spent by the federal government, a ratio many infrastructure experts consider far-fetched. The officials said Mr. Trump would leave it up to Congress — where there is little consensus about how to pay for such a plan — to figure out the details, giving lawmakers wide latitude in creating what would need to be a bipartisan bill against the backdrop of the midterm elections. …

Lawmakers question price tag of Trump’s SOTU infrastructure pitch
Source: Elana Schor and Seung Min Kim, Politico, January 31, 2018
President Donald Trump made a fresh plea Tuesday night for bipartisanship on rebuilding the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges. But lawmakers in both parties left his State of the Union still wondering about how Trump wants to pay for it.  Trump’s infrastructure agenda, long seen as a natural fit for the New York developer, envisions a public investment of $200 billion that could be used to attract private-sector as well as state and local spending. The president asked Congress in his speech “to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion” for infrastructure. … Trump told lawmakers that any federal spending “should be leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment.” Congressional Republicans are considering a strategy that would set aside infrastructure money as part of a broader deal to raise budget caps for domestic programs, but those talks remain in their early stages. …

Trump gears up for $1 trillion infrastructure plan, but GOP lawmakers push back on the idea of a gas tax
Source: Yian Mui, CNBC, January 28, 2018
President Donald Trump’s massive infrastructure package just hit a major roadblock.  Prominent Republican lawmakers are already coming out against raising the federal gas tax to pay for the president’s promised $1 trillion investment in infrastructure. Speaking on Saturday night at a private donor retreat here hosted by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn opposed the idea. … The Trump administration is preparing to release an infrastructure plan in the coming weeks that reportedly includes at least $200 billion in federal spending that would jumpstart investment from the private sector, and state and local governments.  Yet the proposal is not expected to outline where the money would come from, leaving Congress to fill in the details. …

Trump’s infrastructure plan comes with a huge pothole
Source: Joan Lowy and Zeke Miller, Associated Press, January 26, 2018
When President Donald Trump unveils his plan to beef up the nation’s infrastructure plan next month, it will include a crater-sized hole.  The trust fund that pays for most federal highway and transit aid is forecast to go broke in about three years unless the government significantly scales back its transportation spending or comes up with more money. But Trump’s infrastructure plan is silent on the looming problem, an administration official familiar with the plan told the Associated Press. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the plan and spoke on condition of anonymity.  Fulfilling a campaign promise, Trump’s plan proposes to generate $1 trillion in infrastructure spending over 10 years. But the plan seeks only $200 billion in federal dollars, relying instead on state and local governments and private investors to come up with most of the rest of the money.

Trump Adviser Says Infrastructure Push Won’t Have New Revenue
Source: Jacob Fischler, Roll Call, January 25, 2018

White House infrastructure adviser DJ Gribbin told a gathering of the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Thursday that the Trump administration’s upcoming infrastructure proposal will not include any new revenue to pay for $200 billion of new federal spending. The White House’s proposal, to be shared one to two weeks after the Jan. 30 State of the Union address, would be paid for with money from existing transportation programs, Gribbin said, adding that existing formula funding for major programs would not be touched. He later clarified that certain federal transportation money, including for Amtrak and transit programs, would be cut to pay for the program. …

Trump’s Infrastructure Push Targets Permit Rules
Source: Ted Mann, Wall Street Journal, January 25, 2018

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue last week was nearing the end of a speech urging Congress to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure when he offered another option: At least make it easier to build things when the money can be found. “If we just fix the permitting thing this year, you would create an extraordinary enthusiasm about moving forward,” Mr. Donohue said, at a special forum on infrastructure in which he urged lawmakers to take tough votes, including on raising gasoline taxes, in a midterm election year. President Donald Trump hasn’t said where he will find $200 billion in budget savings that the White House says it will use as a down payment on an infrastructure package that it hopes will generate more than $1 trillion in spending over 10 years. …

Trump could reveal long-promised infrastructure plan within two weeks
Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan, Politico, January 24, 2018

A top White House official told conservative groups that President Donald Trump’s long-delayed infrastructure plan could — finally — be unveiled in as little as two weeks, according to people briefed on the meeting. Paul Teller, a special assistant to the president for legislative affairs, was asked about a leaked infrastructure plan at the Tuesday meeting, a regular Capitol Hill gathering of top minds on the right, those people said. Teller said the document was not reflective of the administration’s ultimate proposal to fix the country’s crumbling roads and bridges. Teller said the president will give more details during next week’s State of the Union address and then present a concrete document to lawmakers in two to four weeks, the people familiar with the meeting said.

Leaked Trump Infrastructure Plan Would Put Onus on States
Source: Daniel C. Vock, Governing, January 22, 2018

The Trump administration has hinted for months that its long-awaited infrastructure plan would lean heavily on new spending by states, local governments and the private sector. On Monday, a leaked outline of that plan seems to confirm that the federal government would take a back seat in funding its own infrastructure initiative.  But the outline also proposes a number of controversial changes, such as allowing states to toll existing highways, subsidizing improvements for passenger rail and encouraging states to “commercialize” interstate rest areas.  The outline does not indicate how much money the Trump administration will seek toward its infrastructure plan — prior reports suggest Trump wants $200 billion in new federal spending to attract another $800 billion of outside investments — but it does lay out how the administration would like to divide any new money that does materialize. …

Release of Trump infrastructure plan may slip past January
Source: Brianna Gurciullo and Lauren Gardner, Politico, January 9, 2018
The White House may be pushing back the release of its long-awaited infrastructure package yet again, just a month after saying it would come out by the end of January.  A White House official said Tuesday that there have been “no decisions yet on timing” for the release. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) separately told POLITICO — after a meeting with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and other officials — that administration officials are still deciding whether to publish legislative principles for the plan before or after the president’s State of the Union address Jan. 30. …

Mixed signals on infrastructure plan emerge from Trump retreat
Source: Josh Dawsey, Washington Post, January 7, 2018
President Trump expressed misgivings about his administration’s infrastructure plan Friday at Camp David, telling Republican leaders that building projects through public-private partnerships is unlikely to work — and that it may be better for the government to pursue a different path.  Then on Saturday morning, Gary Cohn, the president’s chief economic adviser, delivered a detailed proposal on infrastructure and public-private partnerships that seemed to contradict the president. He said the administration hoped $200 billion in new federal government spending would trigger almost $1 trillion in private spending and local and state spending, according to people familiar with his comments. Cohn seemed to present the plan as the administration’s approach, although the president had suggested such an approach might not work. …

Why Trump’s Infrastructure Push Might Stall Again
Source: Mark Niquette, Bloomberg Businessweek, January 5, 2018
The first year of Donald Trump’s presidency began with hopes for a unified effort to fix U.S. highways, bridges and airports. His second year begins much the same way. There was talk in 2017 about advancing a sustained infrastructure-improvement program, but there was little progress — a reflection of the president’s priorities and the differences between Republicans and Democrats on how to pay for and carry out such an effort. That hasn’t kept Trump from predicting bipartisan agreement on the issue in 2018. …

McConnell Puts Infrastructure Ahead of Entitlements in 2018
Source: Joe Williams, The Hill, Dec 21, 2017 10:11 AM
….The Kentucky Republican predicted one big focus will be an effort to move an infrastructure package. The White House has already suggested that Trump may renew that effort in the early part of 2018…. McConnell also said legislation to repeal aspects of Dodd-Frank will be taken up by the chamber early next year….

States see Trump’s infrastructure promise slipping away
Source: Lydia DePillis, CNN Money, December 19, 2017
State and county governments, gas and water utilities, regional transportation authorities, labor unions and community groups were all looking forward to completing deferred maintenance projects that have led the American Society of Civil Engineers to give the nation’s infrastructure system a near-failing grade for almost three decades. … Local governments have two main issues with the president’s approach, however. Both have to do with the Republican tax reform plan. …

Trump pushes infrastructure plan after deadly Amtrak crash
Source: Louis Nelson and Kathryn A. Wolfe, Politico, December 18, 2017
President Donald Trump on Monday immediately seized on a deadly train derailment in Washington state to stump for his long-promised package of infrastructure investments — but it’s not immediately clear his plan would have prevented the crash. … But Trump wasted little time connecting Monday’s accident to the $1 trillion infrastructure plan that the White House plans to roll out in January, a package that Democrats are already criticizing for offering relatively little new federal spending for ailing roads, railroads, highways, bridges and tunnels. …

Democrats cool to Trump’s infrastructure pitch
Source: Lauren Gardner and Tanya Snyder, Politico, December 14, 2017
The White House is preparing to unveil its long-awaited $1 trillion infrastructure plan soon after President Donald Trump signs the GOP tax overhaul, hoping to begin 2018 with another big legislative win — but its approach is already drawing resistance from Democrats who are in no mood to cooperate.  The plan set for release in January is expected to call for as much as $200 billion in federal spending over the next decade, with the rest coming from private investment, state or local funding and cuts to other federal programs. An administration official added new details this week, telling POLITICO that a wide variety of projects — from bridges to broadband — would have to compete for federal assistance, while showing they’re prepared to put their own money on the table. … White House officials have said they plan to release their plan as a lengthy statement of “principles” sometime before Trump delivers his State of the Union address Jan. 30. …

U.S. Sets January Push for $1 Trillion Infrastructure Revamp
Source: Ted Mann, Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2017
The White House is preparing to roll out a long-delayed infrastructure rebuilding plan in January, as President Donald Trump’s advisers bet that voters want a $1 trillion road-and-bridge-building plan—even though it is opposed by some lawmakers.  Mr. Trump’s advisers are putting finishing touches on a plan to direct federal spending of $200 billion or more—funds it would propose to offset with cuts elsewhere in the federal budget—to leverage hundreds of billions more from local governments and private investors to pay for road, rail, water and utility upgrades. …

Trump to Release Infrastructure Plan in January, Official Says
Source: Mark Niquette, Bloomberg, December 7, 2017
President Donald Trump plans to keep pushing his legislative agenda in 2018 by releasing his long-promised infrastructure proposal in early January, a senior administration official said.  Infrastructure advocates question whether a Republican-led Congress will be able to pass a spending plan with enough federal funding if it’s already approved a tax measure that official estimates say would bloat the budget deficit. Some say the administration missed its best opportunity to deliver a meaningful public works initiative by not incorporating it into the tax bill, which is nearing approval. …

White House says it’s considering increasing the federal gas tax for infrastructure
Source: Ashley Halsey III, Washington Post, October 26, 2017
The White House is revisiting an increase in the federal gas tax to pay for infrastructure improvements President Trump promised to deliver on the campaign trail.  That news was conveyed to House members Wednesday in a meeting by Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn. … After campaigning on a promise he would lure private capital to invest in infrastructure, Trump in late April said he would be open to bumping up the federal gas tax, which has not seen an increase since 1993.  Some Democrats, notable among them Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (Ore.), ranking Democrat of the House Transportation Committee, have fought an upstream battle to increase the tax. …

White House eyes 7-cent gas tax hike for infrastructure plan
Source: Melanie Zanona, The Hill, October 25, 2017
The White House may back the first hike in the federal gasoline tax in decades in order to pay for President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure package.    Trump’s economic adviser Gary Cohn told moderate House lawmakers at a private meeting on Wednesday that they’ll get a chance to vote on a gas tax hike early next year as part of an infrastructure bill, according to two lawmakers who were present. The discussion over the fuel tax during the meeting was first reported by Politico Playbook.  “Cohn seemed receptive to it,” one meeting participant told The Hill.  Separately, an industry source tells The Hill that the White House intends to back a 7-cent gas tax increase to pay for U.S. roads, bridges, highways and other public works, though it’s unclear if the proposal would be included in initial infrastructure legislation or if the administration will push to have it added at the committee level. …

Rural America looks to Trump to help with crumbling infrastructure
Source: Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, October 16, 2017

Lawmakers and policy experts say the White House cannot forget rural America as it prepares to release the outlines of its infrastructure spending package. … The emphasis on partnerships worried proponents of rural infrastructure investment. Partnerships with private investors face tougher obstacles in rural areas, because it’s difficult for companies in places with smaller populations to generate the revenue needed to sustain the project. …

Infrastructure spending bill sliding down agenda
Source: Melanie Zanona, The Hill, October 4, 2017
President Trump’s change of heart on a core component of his $1 trillion infrastructure package has left the entire effort in doubt.   Trump is now questioning behind closed doors whether public-private partnerships are an effective tool, raising fresh questions about how the massive rebuilding project would be paid for. And the Trump administration, which initially promised to release a legislative package by late summer, likely won’t be focusing on the issue until after tax-reform legislation progresses.  “We’ve seen their outline, but that’s continuing to be adjusted,” Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told reporters Tuesday. “We hope they’re going to make it public in the next week or so. It will be more of an outline or principles, so we can move forward and put meat on the bones.”

Senate Democrats push for $500 billion in infrastructure investment
Source: Ashley Halsey III, Washington Post, September 28, 2017
Senate Democrats, emboldened by the GOP’s failure to unilaterally pass a health-care bill, are launching an effort to win bipartisan support for the investment of $500 billion in taxpayer dollars in infrastructure improvements.  With health-care changes at a standstill and tax reform — another objective on which Republicans campaigned last year — a complex project that is expected to take months, Democrats hope infrastructure spending will emerge as a desirable legislative win for Congress and the White House.  The Democratic push came in a week when President Trump appeared to acknowledge that his campaign promise to raise $1 trillion for infrastructure largely through private-sector investment was not feasible.

Trump backs off vow that private sector should help pay for infrastructure package
Source: Tory Newmyer and Damian Paletta, Washington Post, September 26, 2017

President Trump told lawmakers Tuesday that he was abandoning a key element of his planned $1 trillion infrastructure package, complaining that certain partnerships between the private sector and federal government simply don’t work. Trump’s comments, described by a House Democrat who met with Trump and confirmed by a White House official, reveal an infrastructure plan that appears to be up in the air as White House officials have struggled to decide how to finance many of the projects they envision to rebuild America’s roads, bridges and tunnels. Now the administration wants to force states and localities to foot most of the bill. …

Opinion: Trump’s infrastructure order falls far short of his campaign promises
Source: David A. Super, The Hill, September 9, 2017

… With congressional Republicans allergic to finding new resources from anywhere except cutting programs for the poor and his own political influence flagging, the president has effectively abandoned his infrastructure plan without a fight. Indeed, his proposed budget would further starve already underfunded domestic programs — necessitating still more deferred maintenance — to fund a defense build-up and a ludicrously expensive border wall. Among the big losers would be wastewater treatment programs, the highway trust fund, and maintenance in our national parks.

Rather than press Congress for the infrastructure funding he has admitted we need, President Trump has shifted to blaming environmental regulations such as the Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard that limits building in areas likely to become flooded. Wildly exaggerating the role environmental reviews play in delaying critical infrastructure projects, his executive order would short-circuit environmental reviews of projects that could leave communities excessively vulnerable to natural disasters, destroy cherished recreational opportunities, or expose children in nearby communities to toxic chemicals. …

Trump Wants States and Cities to Pay More for Infrastructure
Source: Daniel C. Vock, Governing, August 31, 2017

The White House envisions that a long-promised infrastructure package would streamline the federal approval process for major projects and also require states and localities to shoulder more of the financial burden for building them. It’s a shift in focus from the Obama administration, which had pledged to increase infrastructure funding but never came up with a long-term solution. … Mulvaney not only said they wanted to reduce Washington’s role in state and local projects but also offer new “incentives” to help them complete projects. “We’re trying to figure out how to use a little bit of [federal] money to generate a lot of money, to give state and locals the incentives to do stuff you might not otherwise do,” he said. …

Rebuilding Our Country Should Boost Good Jobs, Not Privatization Schemes
Source: Roxana Tynan, HuffPost, August 23, 2017
We’ve seen a decline in infrastructure spending the last several years, and The New York Times reports that “In 34 states, spending on government construction projects was lower last year than in 2007, adjusting for inflation. The trend has continued this year. Public construction spending in June was 9.5 percent lower than during the same month last year.”  As state budgets are cut, projects are halted. So where will this outpouring of money come from? Private investors will step in, with the promise of big tax incentives.  Companies will undoubtedly focus on projects that are the most profitable, keeping labor and supply costs down in the process, rather than on building the infrastructure that is most needed. …

Members of Trump’s Infrastructure Panel Resign in Protest
Source: John M. Donnelly, Roll Call, August 23, 2017
More than a quarter of a blue-ribbon panel of experts that advises President Donald Trump on infrastructure security submitted a joint resignation letter to him Monday because, they wrote, his actions jeopardize U.S. security and “undermine” America’s “moral infrastructure.”  Seven members of the 27-person National Infrastructure Advisory Council, mostly Democrats, are stepping down, said Cristin Dorgelo, one of the resigning members, in an email to CQ Roll Call. Dorgelo, a senior counselor at Mission Partners LLC, was formerly chief of staff for President Barack Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. …

Trump Plan to Improve U.S. Infrastructure Is Going Nowhere for Now
Source: Andrew Sheivachman, Skift, August 21, 2017
More than six months into his administration, President Donald J. Trump’s highly-touted plan for a $1 trillion infrastructure investment has yet to materialize.  During an “Infrastructure Week” event last week, the President signed an executive order with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao present aimed at removing regulations governing new infrastructure projects. In particular, the order calls for a less-stringent permit process and fewer environmental regulations.  This deregulation would allow projects to start more quickly, instead of being tied up in years of red tape out of environmental and other concerns. Federal agencies would now be judged on how effectively they facilitate new projects and track costs, as well. …

Trump’s agenda could bring disaster for America’s aging infrastructure
Source: Donald Cohen and Dwayne Royster, The Hill, August 21, 2017
Here’s something that almost everyone can agree on: We need to rebuild and retool the country’s aging infrastructure for the 21st century. The difficult question is how — and President Trump’s infrastructure agenda isn’t the way.  The Trump agenda, while light on details, will surely rely on so-called “public-private partnerships,” which use expensive private financing instead of cheap, reliable public financing. By depending on such deals to rebuild America, the agenda poses serious risks to the public and fails to address the real issue causing our roads to crumble and water pipes to age: the long-term shortage of public funding. …

Trump Plan to Improve U.S. Infrastructure Is Going Nowhere for Now
Source: Andrew Sheivachman, Skift, August 21, 2017
More than six months into his administration, President Donald J. Trump’s highly-touted plan for a $1 trillion infrastructure investment has yet to materialize.  During an “Infrastructure Week” event last week, the President signed an executive order with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao present aimed at removing regulations governing new infrastructure projects. In particular, the order calls for a less-stringent permit process and fewer environmental regulations.  This deregulation would allow projects to start more quickly, instead of being tied up in years of red tape out of environmental and other concerns. Federal agencies would now be judged on how effectively they facilitate new projects and track costs, as well. …

White House Pulls Plug on Infrastructure Advisory Panel
Source: Ted Mann, Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2017
The White House pulled the plug Thursday on a planned council that was to advise President Donald Trump on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, acknowledging that the proposed members would come under pressure not to participate because of the controversy surrounding the president’s remarks amid the Charlottesville furor.  “The President’s Advisory Council on Infrastructure, which was still being formed, will not move forward,” a White House official said Thursday.  The administration abandoned the idea of the council one day after two other groups of business leaders disbanded, as CEOs of some of the country’s largest companies quit over Mr. Trump’s reaction to a white supremacist rally in Virginia. …

Trump talks infrastructure, but $1 trillion plan is as elusive as ever
Source: Lauren Gardner, Politico, August 15, 2017
President Donald Trump on Tuesday rolled out yet another executive order aimed at speeding up approvals for infrastructure projects — the latest in a string of efforts to call attention to his languishing proposal for a $1 trillion initiative to rebuild the nation’s roads, tunnels and bridges.  Tuesday’s order aims to shrink the environmental permitting process to as little as two years, down from an average of seven years for “complex” highway projects, and ensure that just one federal agency serves as the point of contact for each project’s paperwork. It also nixes an Obama-era flood standard that would have required federally funded projects to be built to withstand the stronger storms projected to occur as the planet warms.

Trump to sign executive order Tuesday on infrastructure projects
Source: Reuters, August 14, 2017
President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday “establishing discipline and accountability in the environmental review and permitting process for infrastructure projects,” the White House said on Monday.  Trump, who is visiting his residence at Trump Tower in New York, will also participate in a discussion on infrastructure and give a statement on the subject at 3:45 p.m. …

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