President Trump in his State of the Union address Tuesday called on Republicans and Democrats to work together on an infrastructure package, but offered no details on what his administration is willing to support.
According to Route Fifty:
Infrastructure played a much larger role during Trump’s first State of the Union last year. But the administration’s eventual $1.5 trillion proposal, which relied on state and local governments putting up much of the dollars, along with private investment, never went anywhere.
This year, state and local government officials said before the president’s annual speech that they not only wanted him to talk about spending money on roads, airports, public transit and other projects, but offer specifics on how to proceed. “I’m going to be in the gallery tonight, and I hope that the two most spoken words are ‘investment’ and ‘infrastructure,” said Ron Nirenberg, mayor of San Antonio, Texas, hours before the speech.
And while there is widespread support for addressing the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, airports, seaports, telecommunications networks, and utilities, the question of how to pay for it continues to plague lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
According to The Hill:
“I think it’s obvious that a lot of our infrastructure is crumbling and needs repairs, but how do you fund it when you’re spending on other things as well?” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). “If you’re ever going to borrow money for something it should be for a capital good, but when you’re borrowing so much money … it makes it pretty challenging.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), a centrist Democrat from a state Trump won overwhelmingly in 2016, said the president needs to offer a viable proposal to pay for an infrastructure package.
“I didn’t see the money. I’d love to. I think everyone wants to do one. Everyone knows we need one but I didn’t see no money. How is it funded? Funding is the problem there,” he said.
“One of the greatest opportunities for bipartisan action at the federal level is reinvesting in America’s infrastructure,” said Matthew Chase, Executive Director of the National Association of Counties (NACo). “For counties of all sizes—rural, urban and suburban—infrastructure is at the top of our priority list. This includes advanced broadband, water infrastructure, and workforce housing.”
“County officials need a reliable federal partner as we tackle complex national issues together, such as helping communities and residents left behind in our current economy. Our list is endless – from the growing substance abuse epidemic to widespread disaster recovery to rebuilding our infrastructure.”
“We are on the front lines of serving our communities, providing key services like emergency 911, law enforcement, health, human services, community development, infrastructure and more. We need a steadfast federal partner to pursue our shared goals and seize the opportunities ahead.”
Last year, the Trump Administration unveiled its long-awaited infrastructure plan to Congress. The plan included $200 billion in federal funds; the rest of the $1.5 trillion in spending was expected to come from state and local governments, in addition to the private sector.
But the plan — which Trump himself has reportedly said he’s not sure will work, criticizing its reliance on public-private partnerships — never got off the ground.