GOP senator: Congress may ‘stumble’ on paying for Trump's infrastructure plan

GOP senator: Congress may ‘stumble’ on paying for Trump's infrastructure plan
© Greg Nash

Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoSenate women: Rules on harassment must change Congress, here's a CO2-smart tax fix to protect, create jobs Women, Dems leading sexual harassment discussion in Congress: analysis MORE (R-W.Va.) predicted Tuesday that the biggest hurdle for President Trump’s infrastructure package will be finding a way to pay for its massive price tag.

“The pay-for issue is probably where we’ll stumble,” Capito said during The Hill’s digital infrastructure event, which was sponsored by ABB. “But I think we can mount that challenge.”

Further complicating the White House’s rebuilding effort is that two of the largest potential funding options — international tax reform and a gas tax increase — are likely off the table, Capito said.

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“I don’t believe a gas tax will be in there. I don’t see us doing that,” Capito said. “And the repatriation dollar is getting scooped up into tax reform, so I don’t think that will be available as a source.”

The administration has yet to unveil its long-awaited infrastructure package, but has promised to turn to the issue right after tax reform. Trump’s proposal is expected to include a wide range of infrastructure projects, including energy, water, hospitals and broadband.

Capito, who founded the Senate Broadband Caucus, said it’s imperative to bridge the “digital divide” in the country. She noted that 56 percent of her state is not connected to high-speed internet, though she emphasized that every state struggles with broadband challenges, including populous states like New York.

But Capito warned that public-private partnerships, which have been favored by the White House to spur infrastructure investment in the U.S., may not be sufficient in rural areas where it’s more difficult to recoup investment costs.

“In a state like West Virginia, a rural state, where do you get the private investment?” Capito said. “Unless you’re going to toll every road, which is a non-starter.”