December 12, 2017 11:30 AM, EST
Shuster, Trump Meet for Infrastructure Talks
Bill Shuster John Sommers II for Transport Topics

With Congress and the White House looking to advance a massive infrastructure funding proposal, the top transportation policymaker in the House called a recent meeting with President Donald Trump a “very positive step forward.”

“I appreciate the president’s strong leadership on this issue that is critical to improving our economy and creating jobs, something that matters to every American,” Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said in a statement obtained by Transport Topics on Dec. 12.

“We had a good, productive discussion, and I look forward to working with the president, the administration and my congressional colleagues as we move into the new year to identify specific proposals and priorities,” Shuster said.

The Dec. 11 meeting between Shuster and Trump follows recent indications from White House officials that they plan to unveil a long-term plan that would address concerns with freight corridors, commuter networks, pipelines and the air travel system.

There is an expectation that Trump will follow through with a $1 trillion, 10-year infrastructure funding plan. Thus far, the White House has explained $200 billion would come from existing federal accounts. That would spark $800 billion in private sector investments. New access to tolls, streamlining the permitting process for big-ticket projects and encouraging states to increase their share of revenue are likely anchors of the Trump plan.

Also, the administration has not ruled out raising federal fuel taxes to help offset the plan, White House infrastructure policy adviser D.J. Gribbin said last week.

While Shuster would schedule the consideration of an infrastructure bill next year, Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the top Democrat on the transportation panel, has come out strongly against an expansive privatization effort of the country’s transportation network.