Trump to Stump for Infrastructure—Again

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to greet supporters after arriving at Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, in Cincinnati.

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to greet supporters after arriving at Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, in Cincinnati. Evan Vucci / AP File Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

The president will highlight his public works plan in Richfield, Ohio on Thursday.

WASHINGTON — President Trump is set to make a case for his infrastructure proposal during a visit to northeast Ohio on Thursday.

But there are still no clear answers where federal dollars for the plan would come from. And White House officials are acknowledging that gaining congressional approval this year for a public works package like the one the president has proposed will be tough.

"I think the odds that pieces of this pass this year are very, very high," a senior administration official told reporters during a phone briefing Wednesday, according to a transcript of the call. "Will we get the entire bill through this year, that is more of a stretch."

The administration's continued focus on public works comes after the president last week signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill for fiscal year 2018 that lawmakers loaded up with a roughly $10 billion boost for infrastructure programs. But that hefty funding went to existing accounts, as opposed to new programs like those in Trump's plan.

The spending package promises to ratchet up U.S. deficits even further in the years ahead, which raises questions about how strong the appetite will be among lawmakers, especially budget hawks, for pumping more money toward infrastructure initiatives.

Trump's infrastructure plan calls for about $200 billion of federal spending, that would mostly go toward three new grant programs. The White House proposal also includes provisions focused on workforce development and cutting down project permitting and approval times. 

"It's unlikely there will be one piece of legislation that will contain all these elements," one of the senior administration officials on Wednesday's call said, in reference to the proposal. "We hope to get a big chunk of the plan done this year," they added. "But whatever we're not able to get through this year, we'll take up again next year."

Trump has stressed the need for infrastructure investment throughout his time in office. Members of his cabinet and others in his administration in recent weeks have made efforts to promote the president's public works plan in Congress and at other venues.

White House officials on Wednesday's call said the administration is supportive of an approach that House Speaker Paul Ryan has described for passing multiple pieces of infrastructure legislation as opposed to one sweeping package.

When Ryan outlined this approach last month, some of the legislation he alluded to was on Congress's radar this year anyway, regardless of Trump's plan. For instance, legislation known as the Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA, which covers the Army Corps of Engineers and a reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Key Republicans in Congress have shown enthusiasm for overhauling permitting and project approval guidelines. But any push on this front could easily stray into controversial territory.

Conservation groups and others have raised concerns that the changes the administration is seeking could undermine environmental protections. And the permitting and approvals in question are for not only bridges and roads but also projects like oil and gas pipelines.

Also on Wednesday, the White House Council of Economic Advisers released a report on the possible economic benefits of a new infrastructure program akin to what the president has proposed.

The report estimates a 10-year, $1.5 trillion program could add between 0.1 and 0.2 percentage points to average annual real growth in the nation's Gross Domestic Product—a measure of economic output. It also says the president's plan would likely lead to the employment 290,000 to 414,000 additional infrastructure workers, on average, over a decade. But it adds that these employment gains may be offset by losses elsewhere in the economy.

Whether the plan the White House has put forward can generate $1.5 trillion of investment is unclear and would depend on how much money states, localities and private investors put toward projects.

The report from the Council of Economic Advisers argues for using current infrastructure "more efficiently" by implementing policies such as "congestion pricing." An example of congestion pricing might be charging higher fees or tolls for using a busy road at rush hour.

Earlier in the week, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonprofit watchdog group, cautioned in an analysis that if new infrastructure spending is debt financed, as opposed to offset with some sort of "pay-fors" it could actually hurt GDP.

The group's analysis says that a "generic" $1 trillion package could increase GDP by an estimated 0.12 percent after two decades if offset with certain pay-fors. But the same package, if debt financed, would shrink GDP by 0.08 percent. (For a $200 billion plan, possible growth could be more than 0.02 percent with offsets, versus a nearly 0.02 percent decrease in GDP with a debt financed initiative.)

"Ramping up infrastructure spending without paying for it would not only worsen our already grim budget outlook, it would also undermine the pro-growth effects these proposals might have," the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says in its analysis.

The president has expressed an openness to raising the gas tax, which could help pay for additional transportation infrastructure spending.

But Ryan has ruled the idea out as a possibility for now. And, with an election in November, support in his caucus for hiking the tax is scant

Trump will make his remarks on Thursday in Richfield, Ohio at a training site for members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18, according to the White House.

Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

NEXT STORY: N.Y. Governor’s Plan to Use City Property Taxes Alarms Mayor

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.