White House Will Release Promised $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Plan Monday

The White House has released more specifics about the $1.5 trillion infrastructure that Trump promised during his first “State of the Union” address following several trial balloon leaks.

Many of the details were first hinted at in an outline leaked ahead of Trump’s state of the union speech, and according to administration officials, who offered some more details during a call with reporters Saturday, the plan to be released by the White House mostly aligns with what has already been published.

As the Hill explained, the plan is structured around four goals….

The plan is structured around four goals: to generate $1.5 trillion for an infrastructure proposal, streamline the permitting process down to two years, invest in rural infrastructure projects and advance workforce training.

“The current system is fundamentally broken and it’s broken in two different ways,” a senior administration official told reporters in a Saturday phone call.

“We are underinvesting in our infrastructure and we have a permitting process that takes so long that even when funds are adequate, it can take a decade to build critical infrastructure.”

A $200 billion direct federal investment for the package will be included in the White House’s Monday spending blueprint for fiscal 2019, the White House said.

Half of the federal seed money would go toward an incentive program to match financing from state and local governments, while a quarter of the appropriations would be used for rural projects in the form of block grants to states so governors may decide where to invest.

Twenty billion is for “transformative programs” meant for new projects rather than rehabilitation of old infrastructure, while another $20 billion is meant to expand the use of loans and private activity bonds, a common tool used to fund infrastructure projects. The last $10 billion would go into a capital financing fund.

The allotted $200 billion comes from cuts to programs including the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants and transit funds. The White House said it made the cuts where “infrastructure funds haven’t been spent efficaciously.”

Democrats have criticized the plan, calling instead for increased direct federal investment in America’s crumbling roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects.

One part of the plan involves using a “one agency one decision” policy whereby permitting for infrastructure projects would be streamlined through the agency with the most relevant purview.

House Dems last week released their own infrastructure plan that boasted a $1 trillion direct government spend on an overhaul.

But one point of apparent bipartisanship between the two plans is the need to address rural infrastructure needs. Democrats in their proposal push for the expansion of broadband in rural regions, while a sizable portion of the federal appropriations under Trump’s plan will go into a pot dedicated to rural investment.

Given the immense popularity of improving infrastructure – underscored by a spate of high-profile train accidents – there’s tremendous political pressure for both parties to reach an agreement.

Trump is expected to meet with lawmakers from both parties Wednesday to flesh out the plan in more detail…

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