February 1, 2018 11:45 AM, EST

Editorial: Time for a Deal on Infrastructure

In his first State of the Union address last week, President Donald Trump highlighted several major issues that are near and dear to the trucking industry, starting with the nation’s pressing need to rebuild its crumbling roads and bridges.

In his remarks, Trump called on Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for infrastructure investment and streamlines the permitting and approval process for building projects.

Widespread sentiment that the nation must take action to fix its infrastructure already exists on both sides of the aisle, but the most important question remains unanswered: How to pay for it?

On that front, Trump offered few details, other than calling for the plan to incorporate partnerships with state and local governments as well as private sector investment.

Congress and the administration will need to come together to iron out a package that raises the necessary revenue to support a true revitalization of our transportation system.

In fact, with the fall midterm elections already looming large over Capitol Hill, an infrastructure bill might be the best opportunity for Congress to bridge the partisan divide at a time when political paralysis is expected to set in.

Now is the moment for our nation’s leaders to turn the talk into action and find a way to close the deal.

Infrastructure wasn’t the only topic of particular interest to trucking in the president’s speech. Trump also touted the tax-reform package he signed into law in December.

Transportation firms are among the businesses that have hailed the benefits of these revisions to the tax code, which are enabling them to reinvest in their staff and operations.

FedEx Corp., for example, recently announced it will spend $3.2 billion in tax reform savings to increase employee compensation and invest in several of its hubs.

While tax reform has been a welcome windfall for transportation companies, the ongoing negotiations on the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement remain a source of trepidation.

In his address, Trump reiterated that his administration will “fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones.”

While there could indeed be opportunities to improve and modernize NAFTA, repealing the trade pact altogether would jeopardize the solid economic growth the country currently is experiencing and offset the benefits of tax reform.

Rather than protecting American interests, scrapping NAFTA would eliminate jobs, including many in the trucking industry. The flow of goods across our borders with Canada and Mexico is a boon to the U.S. economy and a tremendous source of freight.

Strong cross-border trade and an updated infrastructure system are two pillars that can support continued American prosperity.