President Trump took many opportunities in 2017 to rail against the state of U.S. infrastructure, most recently using the fatal Amtrak crash in Washington state to point out the country’s crumbling bridges, roads, and railways. “[O]ur soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly,” he tweeted, harkening back to his oft-repeated promise to invest $1 trillion rebuilding the country.
Little came of that plan in 2017. But come January, the White House will begin a push, in earnest, for a national infrastructure package that gets to $1 trillion in overall investment, using $200 billion in federal “seed” money, a senior official told Fox News last weekend.
Trump advisers had previously described an infrastructure package that would rely on the private sector to make up the $800 billion difference. In this version, most of the $200 billion would be rewarded on a competitive basis to states and localities that promise to raise new, infrastructure-dedicated revenue on their own, for a total of $1 trillion, according to The Washington Post. Some portion of the $200 billion would directly fund projects in rural areas.
Such a plan could have its merits—many communities have long needed to find their own means to build roads, pipes, and transit, rather than turn to the federal government. But governors and mayors may not want to take on even more responsibility for infrastructure payments, especially on the heels of a GOP tax bill that promises to dramatically trim tax revenue coming in to certain states and cities. Trump’s new plan may heat up the debate over the role of the federal government in shaping local planning and policy.