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Dems unveil infrastructure plan, reach out to Trump

Dems unveil infrastructure plan, reach out to Trump
© Greg Nash
Senate Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a $1 trillion infrastructure plan in an opening bid to swing President Trump to their side ahead of one of the biggest debates of the year.
 
 
The plan would provide billions of dollars in funding for road, bridge and sewer improvements, expanded broadband internet access in rural areas, railroad repair, public school construction and expanded port and waterway infrastructure.
 
It includes a $200 billion “vital infrastructure fund” that would finance major projects such as rail lines and tunnels connecting New York City and New Jersey.
 
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Also included are $210 billion to repair “crumbling” roads and bridges, $180 billion for rail and bus transit, $75 billion for school construction, $70 billion for port, waterway and airport improvement and $100 billion for energy infrastructure.
 
Trump called for a massive $1 trillion investment in infrastructure during his campaign — substantially larger than what Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntercept DC bureau chief says Biden picks are 'same people' from Obama years The Hill's 12:30 Report - Third vaccine candidate with 90% efficacy Biden won — so why did Trump's popularity hit its highest point ever? MORE proposed — but left vague many of the details of what he had in mind.
 
“That is something that congressional Democrats have sought for years, but congressional Republicans have stymied us at every turn,” Schumer said at a press conference Tuesday.
 
“We’re challenging President Trump to support our plan. He campaigned on a promise of bigger and better infrastructure. This plan is the way to make it happen,” he added. 
 
He was joined by Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden: 'Difficult decision' to staff administration with House, Senate members Hillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far MORE (I-Vt.), Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Kerry says Paris climate deal alone 'is not enough' | EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler| EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds Overnight Energy: Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' | GM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards | United Nations agency says greenhouse gas emissions accumulating despite lockdown decline GSA transition delay 'poses serious risk' to Native Americans, Udall says MORE (D-Del.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots The Hill's Morning Report - Biden inches closer to victory Senate Democrats want to avoid Kavanaugh 2.0 MORE (D-Fla.) and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers Senate advances energy regulator nominees despite uncertainty of floor vote OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Esper reportedly working with lawmakers to strip Confederate names from bases | Enemy attacks in Afghanistan jump by 50 percent, watchdog says | Fort Hood soldier arrested, charged in Chelsea Cheatham killing MORE (D-Wash.) in unveiling the proposal.
 
The lawmakers said they would push for environmental and labor protections to be included in the package.
 
Trump and Schumer discussed infrastructure investment as an area of shared interest during a meeting at the White House on Monday afternoon.
 
Schumer told reporters Tuesday that the new president “seems open to a bill this large.”
 
But Schumer advised him that if he wants the bill to pass, he will have to press Republican leaders and rank-and-file members who are worried about the impact on the deficit to support it.
 
Trump’s campaign recommended “leverag[ing] new revenues” and forming public–private partnerships to incentivize the investments in transportation, clean water, a modern electrical grid and security infrastructure. 
 
A campaign position paper reported on by Fortune magazine estimated that $167 billion in private investment could be used to leverage a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that would spare taxpayers from bearing any of the burden.
 
Clinton pushed a $250 billion, five-year plan during her campaign.
 
Republicans in Congress have embraced the idea of creating tax breaks to spur private infrastructure investment and have warned against any plan that would require massive allocations of federal dollars.
 
 
“What I hope we will clearly avoid, and I’m confident we will, is a trillion-dollar stimulus,” he said.
 
McConnell at Monday’s meeting at the White House reiterated his view that any package considered by Congress this year needs to be paid for and not add to the deficit.  
 
Schumer, however, is not interested in only cutting taxes to help private companies build toll roads.
 
“We will not support tax credits for developers,” he declared Tuesday.
 
He wants a significant upfront investment from the federal government, something more along the lines of traditional plans that helped build the nation’s highway system and mass transit systems around the country.
 
“That’s not the American tradition; ask Dwight D. Eisenhower,” Schumer said of using tax incentives to promote the creation of toll roads, referring to the nation’s 34th president, who oversaw the creation of the American interstate system.
 
Democrats such as Nelson say they wish they had gotten more investment money included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that passed in 2009.
 
“We definitely need an infrastructure bill,” Nelson told reporters, pointing to a need to refurbish Lake Okeechobee’s leak-prone dike.
 
Trump has called for a broad overhaul of the nation’s infrastructure and going well beyond the five-year, $305 billion highway bill Congress passed at the end of 2015.
 
He wants improvements in transportation infrastructure such as roads, bridges, tunnels, railroads, ports and waterways as well as improvements in energy infrastructure such as pipelines and coal export facilities.
 
Democrats have also endorsed spending more money on energy infrastructure.
 
Cantwell, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the package should devote resources to building and improving energy transmission lines and shoring up cybersecurity.
 
- Updated at 1:41 p.m.