ROAD CLOSED: White House says infrastructure bill unlikely in 2018

ROAD CLOSED: White House says infrastructure bill unlikely in 2018 

Posted: 7:50 am Thursday, May 10th, 2018

By Jamie Dupree

The White House acknowledged on Wednesday that one of President Donald Trump’s prime domestic legislative goals – a massive $1 trillion package to fund the construction of new roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects – probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

“I don’t know that there will be one by the end of this year,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged when asked about one of Mr. Trump’s signature issues, which he has been touting since the early days of his 2016 campaign for the White House.

“We’re going to continue to look at ways to improve the nation’s infrastructure,” Sanders added.  “But in terms of a specific piece of legislation, I’m not aware that that will happen by the end of the year.”

The frank admission by Sanders certainly wasn’t a surprise to legislative observers in Washington, as the President has repeatedly talked about sending Congress an infrastructure bill, but never taken the steps needed to forge such a product on Capitol Hill.

“As we rebuild our industries, it is also time we rebuild our crumbling infrastructure,” the President said to a standing ovation in his State of the Union Address earlier this year.

“I’m asking both parties to come together to give us safe, fast, modern and reliable infrastructure,” Mr. Trump added, pressing for an over $1 trillion public-private plan to build new highways.

The White House has repeatedly held “Infrastructure Week” to highlight their push for action – but like efforts from President Barack Obama to press for a similar plan – the unsolved question was still the same, how to fund such an effort.

Other than bullet points and press releases, no concrete proposal ever emerged from the Trump Administration, and Republicans in the Congress have shown no sign of pressing forward with their own plan.

The political irony about Mr. Trump’s push on a big infrastructure bill has always been obvious in the halls of Congress – Democrats were the more enthusiastic supporters of the basic idea.

“Is that something we’d like to do between now and the election?” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi at a Politico breakfast event this week in Washington. “Yes.”

While some money was included in a recent two year budget agreement for infrastructure – $20 billion – when one thinks about dividing that up among 50 states, it will not have a major impact on the overall need for new projects nationwide.

Funding for new roads and bridges comes directly out of federal gasoline taxes – that tax level has not been increased since 1993.

 

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