Bipartisan congressional caucus introduces infrastructure guidelines
- The bipartisan congressional Problem Solvers Caucus has come up with a set of policies and proposals that its members said would help to steer an infrastructure modernization program while safeguarding the environment and national security, according to The Hill.
- The group suggested creating a liaison to assist rural areas in securing federal funds, sourcing materials and goods made in the U.S., "an immediate or phased in modernization of the federal gasoline user fee" and an annual registration fee for hybrid and electric vehicles. The authors of the report noted that they were not seeking federal gas tax hike.
- In the report, the caucus said the quality of U.S. infrastructure has lagged other countries and faces a potential $2 trillion gap by 2025 between funding and the work that needs to be done.
Since then-candidate Donald Trump introduced his $1 trillion infrastructure plan prior to the 2016 presidential election, various lawmakers have introduced their own ways of paying for new public projects and making needed repairs.
The president's initial plan and his 2018 budget proposal focused on private investment and offered a significant tax cut to the private sector. Before Trump took office, Democrats made it clear that they disagreed with handing off the responsibility to non-governmental agencies and suggested a program of direct federal investment instead. GOP leaders came back with a swipe at that plan, insisting that they would block any attempts at passing a bill that was similar in scope to the Obama-era stimulus initiative, which was instituted after the Great Recession.
After his inauguration, newly minted President Trump held fast to the private investment aspect of his infrastructure financing plan but wavered from that position in late September when he told a group of House Democrats that the private sector would not play a big role in his plans.
But the fate of public-private partnerships' (P3s) role remains to be seen. The administration said it would roll out details on the president's infrastructure plan this month, but, according to The Hill, the big reveal might not happen until February, following the State of the Union speech on Jan. 30.
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter