Trump's infrastructure plan could follow fall midterm elections, report says
- Despite seeing some momentum after the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill's passage, President Donald Trump said his administration will likely have to postpone its $1.5 trillion infrastructure package until after the fall midterm elections, according to The Hill.
- The White House, instead, will focus on changing environmental and other permitting regulations through administrative and legislative means, according to The Wall Street Journal. Still, it is unlikely that Congress and the administration will be able to reach a consensus on how to raise the $200 billion necessary to fund the initiative during the next decade.
- White House sources told The Journal the president is committed to passing his entire infrastructure plan, even if that process pushes into 2019. Part of Trump's pitch, according to his Council of Economic Advisers, notes that the full $1.5 trillion package will add between 0.1 and 0.2 percentage points to average annual real growth in gross domestic product over a 10-year period.
The president won much praise from the construction industry even before his inauguration with his promise to cut costly bureaucratic red tape from the permitting process for large infrastructure projects.
His administration has since seen to the chipping away of some Department of Labor regulations like revised overtime regulations and the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act, but his infrastructure initiative — which was unveiled earlier this year — contains a detailed plan to reduce the time it takes to complete environmental reviews. Included in that proposal is the "One Agency, One Decision" strategy that aims to reduce the duplication of work, increase efficiencies and reduce permitting time to no more than approximately two years.
How far the administration will go to expedite the environmental review process has stoked fear in some activists who have already expressed concern over such rollbacks, like those intended to expedite U.S.–Mexico border wall construction. The omnibus spending bill, however, also includes a provision that exempts the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge from border wall construction, according to Houston Public Media. DHS had previously announced its intention to build a piece of the border wall through the environmentally sensitive area, but the plan was met with significant protest.
Reaching an agreement on funding is also going to be challenging. The president's infrastructure plan includes a direct federal outlay of $200 billion, with state and local governments and private investment making up the balance of more than $1 trillion. Some lawmakers have advocated for a hike in the federal gas tax and others for a rollback of some tax reform provisions passed at the end of last year, but there has been no consensus on how to produce the money needed to fund the president's plan.
- The Wall Street Journal White House Tempers Hopes on Quick Infrastructure Action
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