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Is it infrastructure week again?
President Trump campaigned the need for a $1 trillion investment in improving our infrastructure, and he mentioned the issue once again in last night’s State of the Union address. It was an important, if brief, moment.
Improving infrastructure has been held out as the great hope for a grand bi-partisan bargain, but despite the rhetoric no infrastructure plan has gotten off the ground over the last two years.
So how should we take the quick nod to infrastructure in this year’s State of the Union?
First, we should be happy with what wasn’t said. The Wall Street Journal reportedthat up until Monday, the speech had a line urging Congress to “pass my [infrastructure] proposal.” That line was cut because President Trump reportedly told his staff he “hates” the proposal his administration released last year.
That is a good sign. We weren’t too impressed with his earlier proposal either. That proposal was based on one-time funding infusion and relied heavily on public-private partnerships to bring in the majority of new funding, which a Republican-led congressional study found could only plausibly bring in five percent of any new funding. That would leave much of the federal government’s share coming in part from “repurposing” funding for transit, Amtrak and TIGER, a multimodal grant program.
Shortly after the State of the Union, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ranking Republican Sam Graves (R-MO) both made statements calling on the Administration and Congress to focus on the need for long-term sustainable transportation funding.
Finding a solution to transportation funding won’t be easy, but perhaps our leaders are finally on the same page?