- The U.S. Senate has taken up the issue of how to fund President Donald Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure plan, according to The Hill. The Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing has just begun its work, but lawmakers have said it will take a variety of financing strategies — both public and private — to accommodate such an aggressive proposal.
- According to an American Association of State Highway Transportation presentation to lawmakers, possible funding options include a per-mile vehicle fee, additional sales and tire taxes, reallocation of revenue from other programs and a driver’s license surcharge. The most commonly raised possibility was reportedly was a hike in the federal gas tax.
- While lawmakers were working on funding options, Trump and his advisers began to formulate their infrastructure ground game, trying to address issues like how to accelerate permitting at the state and local levels, which projects should come first and where it would be most beneficial to pursue renovations rather than new construction, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Trump has indicated that money would go first to states that could expedite permitting and other approvals to avoid having infrastructure dollars hung up in red tape. This latest meeting serves as a contradiction to rumors that the Trump team might be delaying its infrastructure push until next year. The administration has already reportedly identified 50 high-priority projects as potential ones to kick things off, and Trump has directed federal agencies to accelerate regulatory processes.
This week, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. infrastructure a D+, a score virtually unchanged from its last report in 2013. The ASCE estimated that the cost of necessary repair and rehab work will reach $4.6 trillion by 2025 and cautioned that if infrastructure spending doesn't increase, the gap could widen by $2 trillion by 2025.
While infrastructure has become a bipartisan issue, funding methods for such a massive plan remains divisive among party lines. Last month, Senate Democrats proposed their own 10-year, $1 trillion plan, which focuses on bridge and road repair and the creation of a $200 billion "vital infrastructure fund." However, Republicans have continued to campaign against increasing debt and vowed to oppose an spending plan that resembles a stimulus.