Trump wants to spend $1 trillion to fix the nation's infrastructure
But it's got to clear Congress first
He’s a real estate mogul-turned-President-elect, and now, one of Donald Trump’s promises to the American people is to rebuild America’s infrastructure.
With a Republican-controlled Congress behind him, the question is will fiscally conservative Republicans go along with it?
By “it,” we mean a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure over a 10-year period.
To date, there are few details on what the plan would actually look like, but Trump says it will spur economic growth and create thousands of jobs. The President-elect’s website mentions the desire to fix the nation’s airports, highways, bridges and pipelines – but the blueprint for how to do it is not yet clear.
Based on data from American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials, a $1 trillion investment could cover the cost of repairing and expanding the national highway system and aging bridges.
However, the American Society of Civil Engineers says while a $1 trillion investment is significant, “it still falls short “of the $3.6 trillion needed to restore all of the nation’s infrastructure.”
There’s bipartisan support for a plan. Following Trump’s win, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi expressed a willingness to work with the President-elect on infrastructure, saying in a statement: “We can work together to quickly pass a robust infrastructure jobs bill. But on Capitol Hill, the divide is always over how to pay for it.”
Republican Rep. Mark Meadows told CNN there is an appetite to work with the President-elect on his plan.
“Well, it’s a very aggressive plan,” Meadows says. “What I’ve come to admire about President-elect Trump is that he sets a bold vision and then he figures out ways to accomplish it. “
Last December, Congress passed a $300 billion highway bill for projects spanning six years. The final bill was much lower than the $478 billion plan President Barack Obama proposed, so there’s skepticism about whether Congress would stomach a $1 trillion plan.
“It’s the way that you pay for it. You can’t just raise taxes because eventually that bill will come due. So how will we pay for the infrastructure bill that was the major disagreement there,” Meadows said.
Meadows said if Trump’s plan can be done without burdening the deficit, Republicans will be on board. But for years, lawmakers have struggled to come up with alternative ways to fund infrastructure without raising taxes or adding to the deficit.
Trump hopes to entice the private sector to fund these projects with tax credits.
Critics, however, say the projects need to generate profits to sweeten the deal for private investors and that could mean more toll roads and bridges.
“There will be a lot of local opposition to turning roads into toll roads just to do maintenance,” said Michael Sargent, a research assistant at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank. “Throwing tax credits at the problem would tend to move investment to new things rather than fixing the old things and that tends to be detrimental in the long run.”
For now, Republicans are publicly showing support for making Trump’s big-ticket infrastructure plan a reality.
Privately, industry insiders and people on Capitol Hill say because of the hefty price tag, Trump likely wont get his wish.
If Trump sticks to his guns, it could become his first battle with his own party.