WASHINGTON — The Senate’s top transportation funding leader expressed pessimism over whether her chamber would advance a long-term infrastructure measure this year, a sentiment shared by the Trump White House.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) emphasized that transportation funding bills the Senate considered last year, as well as this year, are “down payments on the infrastructure reform that the administration has advanced.”
Sen. Susan Collins (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
“And, but, whether there will be a comprehensive infrastructure bill, it’s hard to see how that’s going to get done this year,” she told Transport Topics on June 5, soon after her appropriations transportation subcommittee advanced a fiscal 2019 funding measure for programs at the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider the measure June 7.
Asked about outgoing House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster’s call to consider an infrastructure bill this summer, Collins said: “I think that’s great.”
“If we can have an infrastructure bill, that’ll be fine. But in the meantime we’re trying to work with the [Transportation] department to increase funding for certain programs like TIGER grants, which the administration has renamed as BUILD, in order to do a down payment on the infrastructure plan,” she added.
Shuster (R-Pa.) has yet to introduce a long-term infrastructure bill. In February, the White House unveiled a $200 billion infrastructure proposal meant to generate $1.3 trillion in investments over 10 years. President Donald Trump stressed infrastructure policy would lead his legislative agenda for 2018. White House staff announced recently the administration would promote infrastructure funding proposals in 2019 instead.
Under Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) infrastructure grants were renamed the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants.