Congress balks at needed revamp of infrastructure system

A picture showing the president of the United States and construction workers clapping hands
Richfield, Ohio, March 29, 2018: U.S. President Donald Trump promotes the $200 billion federal part of his infrastructure overhaul scheme to construction workers (source: dpa)
  • The U.S. has a hefty backlog of needed repairs to roads, bridges, airports, railways and ports
  • President Trump’s revolutionary plan calls for 80 percent of the infrastructure revamp to become local, not federal responsibility
  • The chances of congressional action on the administration’s infrastructure plan in this election year are slim

President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild infrastructure in the United States is grand in ambition, bold on reform and going nowhere at present. The cold shoulder it has received from Congress reflects disagreement among Republicans about how to pay for the initiative, and Democrats’ insistence that the federal share of funding increase by 400 percent.

Predictable as these politics are, the president’s 55-page legislative outline released in February is distinctive for three reasons: 1) it proposes that states and the private sector assume more responsibility for funding infrastructure projects; 2) it authorizes states to commercialize infrastructure; and 3) it details dozens of regulatory reforms to streamline the nation’s convoluted regime for issuing permits and licenses.

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