GOP chairman: Trump’s infrastructure plan likely to include more than private cash

GOP chairman: Trump’s infrastructure plan likely to include more than private cash

While the timing and details of President Trump’s infrastructure package are still largely unknown, one GOP chairman is almost certain that the plan will include more than just tax credits for privately financed construction projects.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneOvernight Tech: Senate panel subpoenaed ex-Yahoo chief | Twitter gives all users 280 characters | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | EU wants tax answers from Apple Overnight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny Former Yahoo CEO subpoenaed to appear before Congress MORE (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said Tuesday that any proposal “would have to” include multiple funding sources.

“There would have to be some sort of alternative for rural areas, where you don’t have projects that generate the kind of revenue stream that would help pay off investors,” Thune told reporters. “So I suspect that any proposal they come up with will consider having other types of project funding in it.”

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The comments come as rural Republicans have increasingly expressed serious doubt that private investments encouraged by tax credits — the funding tool favored by conservatives and the White House — could fix the infrastructure needs in their communities.

One of Trump’s chief campaign promises was to inject $1 trillion into the nation’s ailing roads, bridges and airports. He has not sketched out a bill in detail yet, though Trump has floated a proposal that would offer federal tax credits to private firms that finance transportation projects.

But infrastructure advocates have warned that the model would favor urban areas over rural ones, because investors would only be attracted to projects that could recoup their own investment costs through some of sort of revenue stream like user fees or tolls. Those types of projects tend to be concentrated in more populous areas, since higher traffic generates higher returns.

Trump will likely need the support of rural Republicans to advance his infrastructure agenda, especially if fiscal conservatives prove reluctant to back massive federal transportation spending.

Thune and other key transportation lawmakers who represent rural regions are expected to help shape a legislative package, though Thune emphasized that a proposal is still coming together.

“We hear from some of the team, and some of the officials, on a fairly regular basis, but I haven’t seen anything specific,” he said.