Trump says it is 'going to be up to' Congress to act on plan to rebuild roads
By Ken Thomas
Feb 12, 2018 | 3:56 PM
President Donald Trump takes part in a meeting on infrastructure with state and local officials in the State Dining Room of the White House on Feb. 12, 2018.
President Donald Trump sent Congress a sweeping plan Monday to rebuild the nation's depleted roads and bridges — then immediately raised doubts about how committed he was to delivering on that campaign promise.
"If you want it badly, you're going to get it," Trump told state and local officials during a meeting at the White House. "And if you don't want it, that's OK with me too."
Trump suggested that his proposal — aimed at spurring $1.5 trillion in spending over a decade — was not as important to him as other recent administration efforts to cut taxes and boost military spending.
"If for any reason, they don't want to support to it, hey, that's going to be up to them," Trump said of the Republican-controlled Congress. "What was very important to me was the military, what was very important to me was the tax cuts, and what was very important to me was regulation."
Speaking of infrastructure, Trump added: "This is of great importance, but it's not nearly in that category. Because the states will have to do it themselves if we don't do it. But I would like to help the states out."
The administration's plan is centered on using $200 billion in federal money to leverage more than $1 trillion in local and state tax dollars to fix America's infrastructure, such as roads, highways, ports and airports. The administration released a 55-page "legislative outline" for lawmakers who will write the legislation.
President Trump unveiled a $4.4 trillion budget for next year that heralds an era of $1 trillion-plus federal deficits.
By Andrew Taylor and Martin Crutsinger
Feb 12, 2018 | 7:09 PM
With the plan heavily dependent on state and local dollars, Democrats warned it would raise tolls on commuters, sell off government-owned infrastructure to Wall Street and eliminate critical environmental protections.
The proposal lists Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Dulles International Airport as examples of assets that could be sold.
"After a full year of empty boasts, the president has finally unveiled a puny infrastructure scam that fully fails to meet the need in America's communities," said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
Convening a roomful of state and local leaders, Trump listened as governors and mayors pitched individual projects in their states and described the challenges involved with gaining federal permits.
President Donald Trump's pledge in his State of the Union to "extend an open hand" to both parties rammed into the reality of a largely gridlocked Congress.
By By Robert Costa
Jan 31, 2018 | 12:27 PM
"Washington will no longer be a road block to progress. Washington will now be your partner," Trump said.
The proposal features two key components: an injection of funding for new investments and to speed up repairs of crumbling roads and airports, as well as a streamlined permitting process that would reduce the wait time to get projects under way. Officials said the $200 billion in federal support would come from cuts to existing programs.
Half the money would go to grants for transportation, water, flood control, cleanup at some of the country's most polluted sites and other projects.
States, local governments and other project sponsors could use the grants — which administration officials cast as incentives — to cover no more than 20 percent of the costs. Transit agencies generally count on the federal government for half the cost of major construction projects, and federal dollars can make up as much as 80 percent of some highway projects.
About $50 billion would go toward rural projects — transportation, broadband, water, waste, power, flood management and ports. That is intended to address criticism from some Republican senators that the administration's initial emphasis on public-private partnerships would do little to help rural, GOP-leaning states.
The remaining federal dollars include: $20 billion for expanded loan programs and private bonds, $20 billion for "transformative projects" that seen as visionary and $10 billion for a capital financing fund and office-building by the federal government.
"This plan recognizes what everyone in America knows firsthand: America's infrastructure is in disrepair, and it's long past time we start building again," said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.