If recent history is a guide, President Trump won’t be getting much infrastructure money from Congress anytime soon. Republicans stiffed former President Barack Obama’s repeated requests to splurge on roads and bridges, and they just got done slashing federal revenues through tax cuts and boosting spending on the military and domestic agencies—including a modest bump for infrastructure.
But the developer-turned-president believes he can jump-start the rebuilding process even before Congress acts: The Trump administration is changing the way the federal government approves infrastructure projects in a bid to speed up decision-making and, ultimately, cut down the time it takes to finish them.
The goal is to shave years off the time it takes project sponsors to obtain the many federal sign-offs required for major endeavors—down to an average of two years, Trump has said. The process has stretched in some cases to a decade or more, as federally funded efforts to build new highways, pipelines, bridges, dams, and electrical power plants get bogged down in the approvals process. By streamlining the bureaucracy, the administration argues it can lure more investment from the private sector, as well as from state and local governments. That money would bridge the gap between the $200 billion Trump has proposed in new federal dollars and the $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending that he wants his plan to spur overall.