Trump's Infrastructure Plan Is Heavy on Promises, Light on Details

Donald Trump

The proposal calls for changes to the federal permitting process, and spending proposals will be paid for by cuts elsewhere in the budget.

"Taxes are one of the ways that state and local governments could raise revenues, but are certainly not the only ways", another senior administration official told CBS News.

The White House will release its infrastructure plan Monday morning, but even with a finalized blueprint, details on how the Trump administration intends to fund the program and turn a $200 billion investment into $1.5 trillion remain hazy.

Trump also wants to speed up projects by limiting the environmental permitting process to two years.

There would also be $50 billion in federal block grants available to governors for projects in rural areas, $20 billion for "transformative", future-looking projects that can't attract private financing and $10 billion for a capital financing fund for federal office buildings, the official said.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday that in addition to the $200 billion the administration seeks for its infrastructure proposal, the White House wants $21 billion over two years for infrastructure that was part of a budget framework deal approved last week in Congress.

Under Trump's plan, though, the federal government presumably would take a back seat even in paying for large projects that could have a widespread impact, like the NY region's effort to replace damaged and traffic-choked passenger rail tunnels under the Hudson River.

Gov. Cuomo and former Gov. Christie had secured a funding agreement with the Obama administration to split the costs - 50 percent federally funded and 50 percent funded by NY and New Jersey.

Trump and members of his Cabinet will tour the country to point out where construction is needed - and where admirable projects have been accomplished, according to senior administration officials. There are at least six committees in the House and five in the Senate that will consider elements of the plan, White House officials said.

In its background briefing, the White House said that its budget would include cuts to many programs, none of which could be tied directly to the $200 billion increase for its infrastructure program.

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First, backers would be eligible to apply for a share of the $100 billion incentive grants to states. But they could get help building those projects more quickly.

"We want to stay away from what has been historical precedent and what undermines the public's trust in sending money to Washington, and that is Washington picking and choosing what we think priorities ought to be for states and communities across the country", he said.

However, the administration said that existing funding sources - such as sales taxes that have already been levied to pay for transit projects - may count towards a local jurisdiction's contribution.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) expressed doubt that Trump's plan could get Gateway project off the ground.

"The flexibility to use federal dollars to pay for essentially local infrastructure projects has created an unhealthy dynamic in which state and local governments delay projects in the hope of receiving federal funds".

"The president talks a big act but then he proposes a small bill", House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference last week.

Democrats in Congress called last week for $1 trillion in direct federal spending, including $100 billion on schools alone as well as billions to expand rural broadband internet service, improve airports, mass transit, roads and ports, boost energy efficiency and improve aging water systems. The new plan reduces that.

At the Conference of Mayors in January, Gribbin explained that the Trump administration would not be proposing a specific funding mechanism for the infrastructure plan, saying that will be a conversation with Congress.

"This fake proposal will not address the serious infrastructure needs facing this country, so our potholed roads will get worse, our bridges and transit systems will become more unsafe, and our tolls will become higher", Rep. Peter DeFazio of OR, the top Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in a Saturday radio address.

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