Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
laine Chao, U.S. secretary of transportation, speaks during the Infrastructure Week kickoff event at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, May 15, 2017.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Monday that the Trump administration’s infrastructure plan will be out in a few weeks and will call for $200 billion in taxpayer money to generate $1 trillion in private investment.
“These funds will be used to leverage $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years,” Chao told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She said the federal investment in rebuilding America’s roads and bridges, as well as water, pipelines and other projects, will be offset by unspecified savings “in order to avoid saddling future generations with more debt.”
President Donald Trump’s pledge to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure over 10 years was a top campaign promise, but it has received little attention because health care and tax reform have been the big legislative priorities. Trump’s struggles to implement his immigration agenda have also been a distraction, as have the investigations into Russian meddling in the presidential election.
Infrastructure is a rare policy area that appears ripe for bipartisan agreement. Large numbers of voters for Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton agreed that America’s roads and bridges are a big problem, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted just after the November election. But how to pay for these reforms has vexed policymakers. Unions and industries that would contribute to the rebuilding have been waiting for details.
It’s far from clear that Trump can rely on private investments for most of his $1 trillion plan. Such public-private partnerships have never been done on infrastructure of that scale.
Some Democrats say they worry that Trump’s plan will try to spur private investment by reducing regulations, such as environmental reviews and community consultations on projects, rather than providing more government money.