SOTU Inspires Hope for Infrastructure Investment in 2019

Written by Sandy Williams

The State of the Union speech on Tuesday brought renewed calls from industry associations for increases in federal infrastructure spending. President Trump’s reference to the subject was cursory at best, but provided hope that Congress can agree on a bipartisan bill in 2019.

“Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure,” the president said. “I know that Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill — and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment, including investments in the cutting-edge industries of the future. This is not an option. This is a necessity.”

Last year, the White House issued a report outlining a plan to use $200 billion in federal money to provide incentives to state and localities to attract “significant new, non-Federal revenue streams dedicated to Infrastructure investments,” as well as encouraging the funding of complex infrastructure projects through Private Activity Bonds. The plan never achieved any traction in Congress.

The president’s appeal for infrastructure investment on Tuesday provided no details about federal investments.

House Transportation Committee chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said in response to Trump’s speech that an infrastructure plan would require bolstering the trust fund for highway and transit investment that is currently fueled by gasoline taxes.

“Any serious infrastructure proposal must provide sustainable, long-term Federal funding so we can make these necessary investments, create millions of living-wage American jobs, increase economic growth, and decrease congestion and emissions,” said DeFazio.

The Associated General Contractors of America urged lawmakers to respond to the president’s call for new infrastructure investment. AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr, released the following statement in reaction to President Trump’s State of the Union speech:

“President Trump understands that one of the most effective ways to ensure continued economic growth is through making needed investments in our roads, bridges, water systems and other public infrastructure. These economic benefits accrue from the expansion of new, high-paying construction career opportunities. But the more significant economic gains will come as we make our economy more efficient by relieving congestion, making drinking water safe for all and improving safety.

“We strongly urge Congress to act on the President’s call to craft new, bipartisan, infrastructure legislation. This association and our tens of thousands of member firms will work tirelessly to educate and encourage members of Congress to take the steps needed to improve our aging and over-burdened infrastructure. Our message will be clear, the most effective way to support continued economic growth and prosperity is by investing in infrastructure.”

The American Trucking Association applauded the president for addressing America’s aging infrastructure and called for a plan with “real investment,” not “gimmicks.”

“Tonight President Trump called for a national, bipartisan effort to restore our country’s declining infrastructure — and America’s truckers are answering that call,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “A win on this issue will require real investment, not budgetary gimmicks as tried in years past. That is why America’s truckers, along with a broad coalition of the business community, have pledged our financial commitment to making this national priority a reality.

“Decades of failed leadership in Washington have led us to this point, which is why we commend the President for seizing this opportunity to bring all sides together to forge a common path forward. Restoring our national infrastructure to greatness will further ignite our economy, make us more competitive abroad, and give Americans more time to spend with family and less time stuck in traffic.”

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