Congressional Democrats are rolling out a $2 trillion plan today for boosting U.S. infrastructure, doubling the investment promised by President Trump with a scheme that they say puts a priority on creating jobs and protecting the environment.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) will introduce a resolution and a bill to invest $2 trillion over a decade in transportation, water, energy and information systems.
The plan from the 75-member Congressional Progressive Caucus and a coalition of progressive groups follows the Trump administration’s release of its principles for infrastructure spending in the White House fiscal 2018 budget proposal.
The administration’s proposal calls for setting aside $200 billion over 10 years to incentivize local, state and private-sector spending on infrastructure. For the first time, the budget proposal fleshed out the $1 trillion target Trump touted on the campaign trail, including proposals to lift restrictions on imposing tolls, maximizing public-private partnerships and streamlining environmental permitting.
Trump’s budget would set aside $5 billion in fiscal 2018 for direct spending on infrastructure (Greenwire, May 23).
The Congressional Progressive Caucus is calling the administration’s plan a "sham" and a "corporate giveaway," and offering an alternate vision for rebuilding infrastructure.
"To fund infrastructure projects, President Trump’s relatively small and incoherent plan would use irresponsible tax gimmicks that benefit Wall Street at the expense of taxpayers," Lieu said in a statement. "Instead, we have introduced the 21st Century New Deal for Jobs to ensure that Congress boldly addresses our infrastructure needs and supports a plan that creates millions of jobs without sacrificing protections for workers and the environment." The groups include the Communications Workers of America and NextGen Climate.
According to an analysis by Senate Democrats, the Trump administration’s plan would not generate net investment in infrastructure because of proposed deep budget cuts to grant programs at the Transportation Department, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. EPA and other agencies. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the analysis is not accurate.
The administration’s proposal said reducing regulations and streamlining permitting would spur construction of a wide range of projects, including oil and gas pipelines. Democrats, meanwhile, vow to avoid support for fossil fuel projects and invest in wind and solar.
In its first year, the Democratic plan would invest $39 billion in roads and bridges; $10 billion in schools; $35 billion in drinking water and wastewater projects; $50 billion in energy infrastructure; $10 billion in high-speed broadband; $6 billion in affordable housing; $35 billion in transit; $6 billion in airports, ports and waterways; $3 billion in veterans facilities; $3.5 billion in Indian Country and public lands; and $2.5 billion in resiliency against natural disasters and cyberattacks, for a total of $200 billion.
Democrats say their plan could create 2.5 million jobs.
Senate Democrats unveiled a $1 trillion infrastructure plan in January. Chao called the proposal "unrealistic" and said it would cause "unintended consequences" for the private sector (Greenwire, Jan. 24).