The prospects for a comprehensive infrastructure measure advancing this year might have improved after President Donald Trump declared the policy as capable of bringing Democrats and Republicans together.
“They want it. I want it,” Trump said on Fox Business on March 22. “I spoke to [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi about it the other day. We agree on it.”
The president added he prefers the federal government to maintain ownership of certain roads and bridges, noting, “I don’t like selling them to other countries.”
In the State of the Union, Trump called on Congress to advance an infrastructure policy bill. His top transportation officials say they will wait for Congress to unveil a proposal.
Pelosi has said the policy has bipartisan potential, and she recently indicated her caucus is readying a bill. The goal is to consider a long-term measure in committee in a few months. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the House’s top transportation authorizer, has called on colleagues to support backing the bill primarily through federal funds. Top congressional Republicans, however, have advocated for enhancing the private sector’s role in infrastructure management, and they support non-traditional sources of funding.
Democrats and Republicans have yet to agree on a sustainable funding approach for a bill. A federal highway account that relies on dwindling revenue from the federal fuel tax is headed toward insolvency in a couple of years.
Last year, the White House’s private sector-centric 10-year, $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal was not endorsed by the Republican-led Congress.