Although President Donald Trump made it clear in last week’s State of the Union address that infrastructure investment is “a necessity” for our D+ roads and bridges, many were left wanting more details about his game plan for solving issues like traffic congestion and road conditions, among others.
In this year’s address, President Trump’s focus was a call for unity to accomplish infrastructure improvements, emphasizing his willingness to cross party lines to make it happen.
President Trump spent substantially less time discussing infrastructure plans for the coming year than he did during last year’s SOTU, in which he unveiled a plan for colossal $1.5 trillion infrastructure package.
Check out these screenshots of the SOTU transcripts from both this year and last year that show the president spent considerably less time talking infrastructure during this year’s address.
In President Trump’s Legislative Outline for Rebuilding America, released last February, the president detailed his administration’s framework for revitalizing infrastructure in America.
“To help build a better future for all Americans, I ask the Congress to act soon on an infrastructure bill that will: stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in new investment over the next 10 years, shorten the process for approving projects to 2 years or less, address unmet rural infrastructure needs, empower State and local authorities, and train the American workforce of the future.”
This plan aimed to use $200 billion in federal money — offset by budget cuts — to generate $1.5 trillion in spending on projects including roads, bridges, airports, railroads, veterans’ hospitals, energy infrastructure, waste cleanups, drinking water and rural broadband.
However, the plan’s reliance on private funds made it hard for leaders on Capitol Hill to swallow, and no progress was made.
Moving forward with infrastructure
Heading into this new year, the “builder in chief” said he will prioritize infrastructure funding.
Expanding on President Trump’s address, a White House note indicated the president “urges Congress to pass a bill that delivers new and important infrastructure investment to rebuild our crumbling roads, aging bridges, crowded airports, and other infrastructure.”
This release outlines good intentions for streamlining the permitting process and brings up the country’s congestion crisis, but lacks specific plans of action.
Transportation secretary Elaine Chao applauded President Trump’s call for bipartisanship on this pressing issue.
“The president issued a bipartisan call to repair and restore America’s aging infrastructure,” Chao said. “Over the last two years, due to the president’s policies, our economy has generated historic levels of economic and job growth for Americans and widespread private sector investment.”
Congress recognizes the dire need for infrastructure improvement, and seeks to advance a comprehensive package.
Senate transportation leaders recently expressed support for a fiscally responsible measure capable of advancing this year. In the House, Transportation panel Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Or.) plans on having legislation prepared in a matter of months.
DeFazio’s republican counterpart on the panel, Missouri representative Sam Graves, commended Trump’s SOTU remarks. Graves put the ball in Congress’s court, saying that with the president’s leadership and widespread agreement in leadership that infrastructure improvement is needed, the time is ripe for change.
“It’s up to Congress to work together and with the administration to find common ground on issues that pose real threats to the future of our infrastructure network,” Graves said.