By David Bauer, senior vice president of government relations, ARTBA
In the week culminating with the inauguration of President Donald Trump, members of the incoming administration continued to emphasize their desire for massive infrastructure investment, even as concerns continue about the specifics of the plan.
Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), Trump’s nominee for secretary the Interior Department, told the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Jan. 17 that rebuilding America’s infrastructure should include $12.5 billion in backlogged repair work at more than 400 national parks.
Speaking the same day to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Vice President Mike Pence renewed a campaign pledge to upgrade the nation’s transportation system and other infrastructure facilities. Pence told the mayors, “In addition to urging me to send along greetings, he said, ‘Tell them we’re going to do an infrastructure bill—and it’s going to be big.”
The Trump campaign released in October an infrastructure proposal from two Trump advisors—Wilbur Ross, who is the president-elect’s nominee for commerce secretary, and Peter Navarro, recently named by Trump as head of a new National Trade Council—that would utilize tax credits to generate private capital to fund revenue generating projects. Although the plan has drawn substantial criticism from a number of sectors, there has been no further mention of it from Trump transition officials.
During her Jan. 11 confirmation hearing, Elaine Chao, Trump’s transportation secretary designee, indicated that she believed the president elect’s infrastructure plan would include both direct federal investment and project financing tools.
ARTBA is continuing to work to ensure any infrastructure initiative includes a permanent Highway Trust Fund revenue solution to support increased federal surface transportation investment and new resources and tools to boost public private partnerships.