WASHINGTON — The White House will release the principles of Trump’s long-touted $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal on Monday — a plan which leans on state and private investment as key, driving factors to finance the effort.
The administration is expected to present a plan that puts $200 billion in new federal funds into the effort, according to a senior administration official, who briefed reporters over the weekend on condition of anonymity: $100 billion on “incentives” to match state, local, and private investment spending on infrastructure projects and $20 billion for expanding federal loan programs that focus on various kinds of infrastructure (rail, water, transportation).
The current plan, said the official, would also allocate $50 billion for rural infrastructure projects that will be block granted to states, and another $20 billion for “transformative programs” that have an eye towards “next-century-type” infrastructure projects. Finally, the administration plan asks that Congress spend $10 billion on a capital financing fund.
“Every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment — to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit,” Trump declared in his State of the Union address.
Asked how the $200 billion infusion would be paid for, the senior administration official cited “a whole series of places where the administration is suggesting reduced funding” in their soon-to-be-released budget, declining to be more specific than an assurance it would be paid for “out of savings from other areas of the federal budget.” The White House is also planning to release its version of the federal budget Monday.
In addition, the administration hopes to use the infrastructure plan to address an issue the former real estate mogul has long griped about: the often lengthy permitting process that developers and contractors must navigate before construction can begin.
“We want to shorten the permitting process into two years,” said the senior administration official, who said that the goal is also to preserve environmental protections as well. Trump complained during the 2016 campaign that over-sensitivity to various plants and wildlife had held up construction of barriers along the southern U.S. border, where he would like to construct a wall of his own.
The fix, the administration says, is moving toward what they call “one agency, one decision”: directing one federal department to take the lead on permitting actions.
Trump is expected to hit the road to sell the plan once its broad contours are released. But the sale he’ll really need to make is to lawmakers on Capitol Hill — a fact of which administration officials involved in crafting the proposal are keenly aware.
Monday’s release, they say, shouldn’t be seen as a “take-it-or-leave-it proposal,” but the launching point for the deal-making process. “This is the start of a negotiation — bicameral, bipartisan negotiation — to find the best solution for infrastructure in the U.S.,” said the official. “We envision this will be a bipartisan push.”
The push for tax reform began the same way: with the White House publicly bullish about winning Democrats to their cause but, in the end, unable to actually do so. Now, the administration sees “a significant amount of overlap in terms of the objectives” between the White House plan and other ideas floated by Democrats, though the official said that “there’s obviously a disagreement of the best way to get to those objectives.”
FEB 11 2018, 5:03 PM ET