By Lauren Schapker, vice president of legislative affairs, ARTBA
President Donald Trump March 31 jumpstarted conversations on a fourth COVID-19 response package in a tweet urging massive new infrastructure investment to aid the economic recovery.
“With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill. It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4”
Trump’s statement came the day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) remarked to reporters that infrastructure should be a key component of a fourth economic recovery bill.
“There are infrastructure needs that our country has that directly relate to how we are proceeding with the coronavirus,” she said. “And we would like to see in what comes next something that has always been nonpartisan, bipartisan, and that is an infrastructure piece that takes us into the future.”
Infrastructure has traditionally been a bipartisan issue for Congress and was a top 2016 campaign issue for Trump, but he has yet to secure a legislative deal. During his Feb. 4 State of the Union address, he urged passage of the bipartisan America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, which would increase investment in highway programs over five years. It passed unanimously out of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee last summer.
Pelosi said the drafting of a fourth coronavirus package is underway. Though Congress is on scheduled recess until April 20, leaders have indicated they could return to the Capitol quickly, if needed, to vote on legislation.
The ARTBA co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition, in a March 19 letter, urged congressional leaders to consider reauthorizing surface transportation programs to stabilize and grow the economy in the near and long-term. ARTBA will continue to work with Congress and the Trump Administration to ensure the interests of the transportation construction industry are addressed in future economic response laws.