Democrats, White House discuss ‘big and bold’ infrastructure bill
May 1, 2019
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and other top Democrats met with Trump and his team on Tuesday to discuss infrastructure. Although details are unknown, it marks the first meaningful discussions with the White House regarding a much needed infrastructure bill.
On April 30, Pelosi and Schumer led a meeting with Trump to talk exclusively about an infrastructure bill. Nine people in the Trump camp, including Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, were present. Additionally, 10 more Democratic Congress members also attended.
It was perhaps the most significant and meaningful meeting regarding infrastructure since Trump has been office, signaling optimism that an infrastructure is soon to come. When referring to an infrastructure bill, Pelosi and Schumer kept mentioning the phrase “big and bold.”
“We are very excited about the conversation we had with the president to advance an agenda of that kind,” Pelosi said after the meeting. “We did come to one agreement that the agreement would be big and bold.”
However, one problem continued to linger after the meeting: Where is the money coming from? Both the Democrats and president agreed on the amount needed: $2 trillion.
“We told the president that we needed his ideas on funding, that the last bill that he proposed, which A) was smaller, but B) took as much money away – and the speaker emphasized this – took as much money away as it put in, wasn’t going to work. So, where does he propose that we can fund this? Because certainly in the Senate, if we don’t have him on board, it’ll be hard to get the Senate to go along.”
Jay Grimes, director of federal affairs at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, told Land Line Now that there appears to be signs of good news when it comes to funding.
“On a positive note, we did hear that it doesn’t sound like public-private partnerships are going to be the real driving force behind that $2 trillion figure, which is certainly good to hear from the OOIDA perspective,” Grimes said. “That probably means not a lot of expanded tolling.”
The entire interview can be heard below:
Trump has said before that $1 trillion is needed to fix the nation’s infrastructure. Instead of the government supplying 100% of the funding, Trump’s plan at the time would only provide $200 billion, relying on state/local governments and private investments to pick up the rest. Now that the bill is up to $2 trillion, more questions have been raised.
In a letter sent to Trump on Monday, April 29, by Pelosi and Schumer, the Democrats laid out three priorities they want the White House to consider when constructing an infrastructure bill:
America’s unmet infrastructure needs are massive, and a bipartisan infrastructure package must meet those needs with substantial, new and real revenue. We look forward to hearing your ideas on how to pay for this package to ensure that it is big and bold enough to meet our country’s needs.
A big and bold infrastructure package must be comprehensive and include clean energy and resiliency priorities. To truly be a game-changer for the American people, we should go beyond transportation and into broadband, water, energy, schools, housing and other initiatives. We must also invest in resiliency and risk mitigation of our current infrastructure to deal with climate change.
A big and bold infrastructure plan must have strong Buy America, labor, and women, veteran and minority-owned business protections in any package. This bill can and should be a major jobs and ownership boost for the American people – manufacturers, labor contractors, and women, veteran and minority-owned businesses.
Outside of a vague set of priorities and an agreement on how much to spend, no other details are known as of press time. However, the group will meet again in three weeks to discuss Trump’s ideas for how he wants to pay for the $2 trillion price tag.