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May 3, 2019 1:00 PM, EDT

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy Highlights P3s, Permit Streamlining

Kevin McCarthy Kevin McCarthy speaks at a press conference. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

With Washington buzzing about infrastructure, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, expressed support for a comprehensive package that would incorporate potential contributions from the private sector and streamline the permitting process.

Speaking to reporters May 2, McCarthy, from California, acknowledged infrastructure policy presents lawmakers with a rare window of opportunity to collaborate in a bipartisan way. He emphasized there are potential benefits that would come from tapping private sector investors to help finance rebuilding efforts, noting, “I think public-private has worked in a lot of places.” Adopting additional policies aimed at expediting projects also is a priority for his caucus.

Identifying a sustainable source of funding for federal infrastructure projects remains elusive on Capitol Hill. McCarthy was asked about funding, specifically if he opposes increasing the fuel tax. His answer was not definitive: “If the money went all directly to the roads, I’d support putting it into the roads.”

On April 30, House Democrats announced an agreement with President Donald Trump to proceed with a $2 trillion infrastructure measure. Matters of funding would be discussed in about three weeks.

Neither party this year has unveiled a funding plan for infrastructure and surface transportation accounts. While several senior Democrats support raising federal fuel taxes, Republican leaders have repeatedly opposed that approach. Also, critics of public-private partnerships argue rural corridors lack the requisite traffic volume to attract investors.