BUILDING A STRONGER AMERICA: PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP’S AMERICAN INFRASTRUCTURE INITIATIVE
“We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways all across our land. And we will do it with American heart, and American hands, and American grit.” – President Donald J. Trump
BUILDING AMERICA’S INFRASTRUCTURE: Today, President Donald J. Trump released his legislative goals to rebuild our Nation’s crumbling infrastructure. The six principles include:
- Investing $200 billion in Federal funds to spur at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments, through partner financing at the State, local, Tribal, and private level;
- Focusing on rural America, which has been left behind for too long;
- Returning authority to State and local governments;
- Reducing regulatory barriers that needlessly get in the way of infrastructure projects;
- Streamlining and shortening permitting processes for infrastructure projects; and
- Supporting and strengthening America’s workforce.
STIMULATE INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT: President Trump’s plan will lead to at least $1.5 trillion in investments to rebuild our failing infrastructure and develop innovative projects.
- $200 billion in Federal funds will spur at least $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure investments.
- Federal infrastructure spending will promote State, local, and private investments and maximize the value of every taxpayer dollar.
- Of the $200 billion, $100 billion will create an Incentives Program to spur additional dedicated funds from States, localities, and the private sector.
- Applications for the Incentives Program will be evaluated on objective criteria, with creating additional infrastructure investment being the largest factor.
- The Incentives Program will promote accountability, making Federal funding conditional on projects meeting agreed upon milestones.
- $20 billion will be dedicated to the Transformative Projects Program.
- This program will provide Federal aid for bold and innovative projects that have the potential to dramatically improve America’s infrastructure.
- The program will focus on projects that could have a significant positive impact on States, cities, and localities but may not attract private sector investment because of the project’s unique characteristics.
- $20 billion will be allocated to expanding infrastructure financing programs.
- Of the $20 billion, $14 billion will go to expanding a number of existing credit programs: TIFIA, WIFIA, RRIF, and rural utility lending.
- $6 billion will go to expanding Private Activity Bonds.
- $10 billion will go to a new Federal Capital Revolving Fund, which will reduce inefficient leasing of Federal real property which would be more cost-effective to purchase.
- A new fund will allow some incremental revenues from energy development on public lands to pay for the capital and maintenance needs of public lands infrastructure.
INVEST IN RURAL AMERICA: Rural America’s infrastructure has been left behind for too long, and President Trump’s plan will make sure it is supported and modernized.
- $50 billion of the $200 billion in direct Federal funding will be devoted to a new Rural Infrastructure Program to rebuild and modernize infrastructure in rural America.
- The bulk of the dollars in the Rural Infrastructure Program will be allocated to State governors, giving States the flexibility to prioritize their communities’ needs.
- The remaining funds will be distributed through rural performance grants to encourage the best use of taxpayer dollars.
INCREASE STATE AND LOCAL AUTHORITY: President Trump’s proposal will return decision-making authority to State and local governments, which know the needs of their communities.
- Funds awarded to State and local authorities, such as through the Incentives Program and the Rural Infrastructure Program, will be allocated to infrastructure projects they prioritize.
- This empowers States and localities to make more infrastructure investment decisions and prioritize projects based on the needs of their communities
- The plan will expand processes that allow environmental review and permitting decisions to be delegated to States.
- The plan will also allow Federal agencies to divest assets that can be better managed by State or local governments or the private sector.
ELIMINATE REGULATORY BARRIERS: The President’s plan would eliminate barriers that prevent virtually all infrastructure projects from being efficiently developed and managed.
- The President’s plan will:
- Provide more flexibility to transportation projects that have minimal Federal funding but are currently required to seek Federal review and approval.
- Incentivize the efficient development and management of water infrastructure, in part, by providing more flexibility to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its partners.
- Give the Department of Veterans Affairs the flexibility to use its existing assets to acquire new facilities by allowing it to retain property sale proceeds and exchange existing facilities for construction of new facilities.
- Expand funding eligbility for land revitalization projects through the Superfund program and establish tools to help manage their legal and financial matters.
STREAMLINE PERMITTING: President Trump’s infrastructure proposal will shorten and simplify the approval process for infrastructure projects.
- Working with Congress, we will:
- Establish a “one agency, one decision” structure for environmental reviews.
- Shorten the lengthy environmental review process to two years while still protecting the environment.
- Eliminate certain redundant and inefficient provisions in environmental laws.
- Create two new pilot programs to test new ways to improve the environmental review process.
INVEST IN OUR COUNTRY’S MOST IMPORTANT ASSET – ITS PEOPLE: The President is proposing reforms so Americans secure good-paying jobs and meet the needs of our industries.
- The President’s plan would reform Federal education and workforce development programs to better prepare Americans to perform the in-demand jobs of today and the future. This includes:
- Making high-quality, short-term programs that provide students with a certification or credential in an in-demand field eligible for Pell Grants.
- Reforming the Perkins Career and Technical Education Program to ensure more students have access to high-quality technical education to develop the skills required in today’s economy.
- Better targeting Federal Work-Study funds to help more students obtain important workplace experience, including through apprenticeships.
Q&A | INFRASTRUCTURE “BUILDING A STRONGER AMERICA”
Q: There has been some skepticism regarding your claim that the President’s plan will generate $1.5 trillion of infrastructure investment with only $200 billion in actual federal spending. What makes the Administration think that such an exponential jump is possible?
· If there’s one thing President Trump proved in his first year, it was that the American economy can easily shatter expectations if Washington gets out of the way.
· The Washington establishment still thinks that infrastructure can only be built correctly if they make all the decisions and control the purse strings, but one look at the crumbling bridges and roads across America shows that approach has failed.
· Instead of sending taxpayer money to DC only to have it eventually trickle back down to communities along with a host of new restrictions and requirements, the President wants to allow communities to keep more of their funds and make their own decisions, and to simplify the federal bureaucratic maze.
· There are existing programs that are currently generating a far larger return on investment for federal dollars. With programs like TIFIA producing a 40:1 return, we think it’s entirely within our reach to get to $1.5 trillion.
Q: Doesn’t this plan just saddle communities that already can’t afford to build these projects with the bills that they will have to pass along to their residents in the form of tolls and taxes?
· Make no mistake, whether this money “comes from” the federal government, the state government, or the local government, it is coming out of the pockets of American taxpayers.
· Democrats may want to pretend that money from Washington is “free” but it’s really just money that was sent out of your community and to Washington, only returned with hundreds of costly strings attached.
· Americans understand this and want to keep their money in their communities and out of the swamp. 84% of Americans are willing to consider revenue-raising measures as long as the revenue is mandated by law to be spent only on specific infrastructure projects.
Q: Since the President began floating this $200 billion number last year, Congressional Republicans have been raising red flags about where that money will come from. You have repeatedly said that the $200 billion comes from savings elsewhere in the President’s budget, but we all know that Presidential budgets do not get enacted. It’s clear that at some point you will have to identify another source of funding for this program. How are you going to ensure that the polarizing nature of some of these potential funding sources doesn’t prevent the program from moving forward?
· The President and his team is ready to work with Congress to find a way to pay for this program that all parties can support. This initiative is too important to allow difficult conversations to prevent rebuilding our country.
· We are not going to take any of the options off the table at this point and are hopeful that Congress will work in a bipartisan fashion to appropriate the funding needed.
Q: Would the President be open to supporting additional revenue for infrastructure?
· The Trump administration is open to additional funding beyond the $200 billion and will work with Congress to find a bi-partisan approach to ensuring our nation is appropriately investing in infrastructure.
Q: The President’s FY18 budget proposed an estimated $255 billion cut to existing infrastructure programs over 10 years, including steep cuts to Amtrak subsidies and the elimination of the TIGER Grant program. How do you square these budget cuts with the President’s promise to “create the first class infrastructure our country and our people deserve?”
· The President’s budget imposes fiscal discipline on Washington spending across the board.
· It includes an additional $200 billion set aside for smart infrastructure spending, but also reduces or eliminates programs that are either inefficient, duplicative of other Federal efforts, or that involve activities that are better delivered by States, localities, or the private sector.
· The fiscal goal of the President’s infrastructure initiative is to seek long-term reforms on how infrastructure projects are regulated, funded, delivered, and maintained.
· The TIGER program was just another way for the Washington establishment to funnel money into pet projects in their states or districts. An eye-popping 50% of TIGER funding went to projects in Nancy Pelosi’s district.
· Amtrak’s long distance train services, while geographically expansive, serve a very small number of passengers – less than 5 million annually.
Q: Your proposed changes to the environmental permitting process would affect many environmental laws that protect our nation’s clean air, clean water, wildlife, and national parks. Moreover, we know that infrastructure will need to be bipartisan. Can you really expect to get much Democrat support for a bill that endangers our environment in favor of the interests of big business?
· The President recognizes that it is part of the federal government’s mission to ensure good environmental stewardship. He just knows that every system can be made more efficient so that we are also good stewards of our economy.
· The President has charged his team with identifying the parts of the maze that is the federal bureaucratic permitting system that can be streamlined or improved through regulatory reform without impacting the quality of the analysis. It’s been estimated that the President’s directive to reduce the permitting process from an average of 10 years to 2 could free up $3.6 trillion that could be put to better use reinvested back into our infrastructure.
o Countries like Australia and Canada measure their permitting processes in months, not years. They are also among the most environmentally conscious countries in the world. Smarter regulation doesn’t mean that we are abandoning our responsibility to the environment.
o The Tappan Zee Bridge, championed by Senator Schumer, is an example of an American infrastructure project that was moved through the system deliberately, yet responsibly. As the President said himself, whether a project is approved or rejected, he thinks the communities who are investing their time and money rebuilding our country deserve to know the answer in a timely manner.
Q: What about XX project in my state/district/neighborhood? It’s dangerous/costing my community lots of money. Can you promise that this plan will fix it?
- The President’s infrastructure plan will make it easier for all responsible projects to get done.
- Instead of having their infrastructure priorities set by Washington, the President’s plan will allow communities to decide which projects are most important to them and direct funding accordingly.
- And once they are underway, the President’s regulatory reform proposals will ensure that these important projects are completed in a timely manner, not tied up in unnecessary bureaucracy.
Q: This will need to be a bipartisan bill, but there are significant portions of this plan that are non-starters for the two sides you need to come together in order to make this happen. Democrats say that $200 billion is not nearly enough money, while Republicans are already balking at spending even that amount. What are you going to do to bring both sides together?
· The American people have made it very clear that they want Washington to solve this problem. According to recent polls, 84% of American say “the country needs to invest more in infrastructure” and 76% support the President’s proposals of paying for that investment through a combination of government spending, bonds, and public-private partnerships.
· We think that any Member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, should be excited to deliver on this mandate from the people they serve.
Q: Senator Schumer has very publicly stated that he considers a deal on the Gateway project in New York and New Jersey to be a prerequisite to get him to the table on any infrastructure bill. Is the Administration prepared to revisit federal funding of Gateway in order to get infrastructure done?
· While we certainly aren’t opposed to talking about Gateway, we’re not going to start the discussion of rebuilding our entire nation with a single – albeit large – project, especially not one where 90% of the benefits go to local transit riders.
· Part of the problem with the old way of thinking about infrastructure was this focus on individual projects, when there are hundreds of projects around the country that need improvement and investment. President Trump is changing the paradigm and challenging the system to modernize and bring American infrastructure into the 21st century
· The President spoke with stakeholders in the Gateway project last year, showing his willingness to discuss this project and hope to find a fiscally responsible path forward.