By John Schneidawind, vice president of public affairs, ARTBA
The much-anticipated April 30 White House meeting between President Donald Trump and leading congressional Democrats ended with initial agreement on several key elements of an infrastructure bill: a $2 trillion investment price tag, a definition of what constitutes infrastructure, and a commitment to meet again in three weeks to explore options to pay for it.
Both sides emerged optimistic. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the meeting was “excellent and productive,” acknowledging that the United States has not come close to properly investing in infrastructure for many years. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the meeting “positive,” while Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) echoed similar sentiments, calling the $2 trillion infrastructure investment target “a good thing.”
Schumer said Trump pushed off tough questions about where the money will come from; saying he told the president that Congress needs his ideas on funding.
ARTBA President and CEO Dave Bauer said:
“Common ground has always been there for the taking when it comes to making major new infrastructure investments. Today’s meeting was a positive and constructive step forward in what should be a bipartisan process. The foundational pillar of any long-term infrastructure package is a sustainable, growing, user-fee based revenue stream for the Highway Trust Fund. It remains the linchpin for any final and meaningful deal between the Trump administration and Congress.”
No congressional Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who has downplayed the chances of moving an infrastructure spending bill through the upper chamber, attended the meeting.
Beyond roads, bridges, and transit, the proposed package also would invest in upgrades to U.S. water and sewer systems, and internet broadband, especially in rural communities.
Today’s discussions and the prospect of another congressional-White House meeting in three weeks is well-timed with the scheduled May 13-15 ARTBA Federal Issues Program and Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-In.
The FIP includes an update on the Project 2019 Reauthorization Task Force policy recommendations for the 2020 highway/transit bill. The TCC Fly-In is also your chance to meet face-to-face with your members of Congress to press for action on the infrastructure package and permanent revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund.
See the full schedule and register.