Stuck in the Mud Again

May 29, 2018

In response to a question during a recent press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, “We’re going to continue to look at ways to improve the nation’s infrastructure, but in terms of a specific piece of legislation, I’m not aware that that will happen by the end of the year.”

No legislation, no funding. No funding…well I think you can extrapolate the rest.

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As disheartening as Sanders comments were, they hit particularly hard in the gut given that it was in the middle of a week in which 400 or so organizations held more than 100 events around the country pleading for investment in infrastructure, also known as Infrastructure Week. Senate Democrats even went so far as to create an “In Memoriam” video for infrastructure.

The Hill spoke with Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) who is the ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and says that there hasn’t been any progress made on a bill with Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA). “As far as I know, it’s been shredded, or burned, or something. It doesn’t exist,” DeFazio said Wednesday of the president’s rebuilding blueprint.

The White House plan, unveiled in February, was meant to provide lawmakers with a framework to craft legislation. But it quickly met opposition from Democrats, who argued the administration’s emphasis on funding from the private sector and state and local governments was the wrong approach to infrastructure.  

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle immediately questioned how to pay for the president’s proposal, which calls for $200 billion in federal money with the goal of sparking a $1.5 trillion investment by incentivizing private and local investors.

“The only thing we need is funding and Paul Ryan is opposed to any additional funding,” said DeFazio, referring to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

“I told the president that—when I was at the White House—if he wants a bill, he’s got to push the Republican leadership for funding. He didn’t. They won’t. That’s it. Done. Dead,” he said.    

The article went on to say:

“Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on transportation, housing and urban development, said this week that while he doesn’t know where Trump’s infrastructure framework stands, the recently unveiled transportation appropriations bill for fiscal 2019 is a ‘major investment’ in rebuilding.

“It’s major money for the states, increased money for the states that, in essence, goes to their formula, whether it’s highways, whether it’s bridges,” said Diaz-Balart, who said he still hopes there will be another bill.

Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told The Hill that he hopes the rebuilding efforts won’t ‘be a bare-bones minimum’ pursuit. He plans to continue advocating for a larger package, but refused to say just how optimistic he is due to “past performance.”

By the way, in case you didn’t know, President Trump’s infrastructure policy advisor, D.J. Gribbin, quit a couple of months ago.