As Lawmakers Eye Infrastructure, Funding Remains a Key Challenge

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Nov. 14 that he hopes the next Congress can pass an infrastructure package, but that the same challenges in securing funding will dog any proposals, Politico reported.

"You know what the sticking point is: how do you pay for it? I think I can pretty safely say Republicans are not interested in doing a $900 billion stimulus which we did at the beginning of the Obama era. In other words, went out and borrowed $900 billion," McConnell told reporters.

"So the question is, how are you going to pay for it?" he said. "That always becomes challenging because there's no easy way to pay for infrastructure without impacting an awful lot of Americans."

Democrats in both Chambers are calling for "real" infrastructure spending. 

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Democrats believe in a real infrastructure bill, with real direct and robust federal investments, that will rebuild crumbling roads and bridges.

Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), who is set to become Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the 116th Congress, said Nov. 6 that a major infrastructure package funded by real dollars would be his first order of business in January.

[Congressman DeFazio Plans to Deliver Major Infrastructure Package]

With current surface transportation law set to expire in 2020, Rep. DeFazio said during a call with reporters that he would begin work on a new surface transportation bill in January as well as a separate infrastructure package. Rep. DeFazio reportedly met with White House Legislative Affairs Director Shahira Knight before the election, during which she conveyed the President’s “sincere” desire to work with Democrats on an infrastructure package.

Infrastructure is largely viewed as one issue where bipartisan agreement will be possible next year.

Rep. DeFazio spoke about the shortcomings of the $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan put forth by the Administration in early 2018, saying it was full of “pretend stuff” such as privatization and asset recycling.

The Administration in its infrastructure framework called for asset recycling, which could very easily lead to tolling and rest area commercialization, both of which are actively opposed by NATSO. Implemented by the Australian Government, asset recycling funds new infrastructure and revitalizes existing infrastructure through the sale or lease of public assets.

The Administration’s proposal also failed to address the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund or long-term sustainable funding for infrastructure.

 

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