Trump’s infrastructure plan likely to take shape later in spring

Trump’s infrastructure plan likely to take shape later in spring
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President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Trump-Biden debate clash The Memo: Debate or debacle? Democrats rip Trump for not condemning white supremacists, Proud Boys at debate MORE’s promised infrastructure package will likely take shape after his first 100 days in office, according to top Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said Congress will focus on finding ways to pay for Trump’s infrastructure proposal during the first few months of his presidency, with a broader package likely to come together later in the spring.

Trump’s first 100 days will come to a close at the end of April. 

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“We’re going to start to work on it, but first of all, you’ve got to figure out the pay-fors, which will come, I believe, in the first 100 days,” Shuster said Wednesday. “Then in the next second 100 days is when we’ll put together a big infrastructure package.”

 

House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBiden's debate game plan? Keep cool and win Trump, Biden have one debate goal: Don't lose RNC chair on election: We are on track to win the White House MORE (R-Wis.) echoed a similar sentiment on Wednesday, telling radio host Hugh Hewitt that details on how to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure will emerge in the spring.

“Those are the kind of innovative reforms we’re going to be working on between now and our spring budget, which is where we believe we will be able to address the infrastructure issue,” Ryan said.

Trump has long talked about the need to fix the country’s roads, bridges and airports, and initially promised to submit a proposal to Congress within his first 100 days in office. 

“I think for the most part, it’s going to be driven by the administration,” Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneHouse in near-unanimous vote affirms peaceful transfer of power In rare move, Schumer forces vote to consider health care bill amid Supreme Court tensions Supreme Court nominee gives no clues in GOP meeting MORE (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told reporters Wednesday. “I assume at some point they will consult with us about what that might look like, and I’m anxious to engage in those discussions.”

Trump has floated a $1 trillion infrastructure proposal that would offer federal tax credits to private investors who back transportation projects.

But there have been signs in recent weeks that the plan may take a back seat to other GOP priorities. Trump told The New York Times that infrastructure would not be a “core” part of his agenda, while incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus told Hewitt that ObamaCare repeal and tax bills will take precedent over infrastructure.

Trump is also likely to face pushback from fiscal conservatives, who are typically reluctant to back any massive federal spending, casting further doubt on whether Trump will be able to deliver his infrastructure proposal in the first 100 days. 

“That’s not a very Republican thing — I didn’t even know that, frankly,” Trump said of large infrastructure spending, according to the Times.

When pressed on how big the infrastructure spending package will be, Ryan said, “No one knows the answer to that yet.” But he emphasized that any proposal should get private capital off the sidelines instead of relying on direct federal investments, a method heavily favored by Democrats. 

“We’re trying to do our best to streamline regulations so that transportation dollars stretch as far as possible, and leveraging private-sector dollars so that private-sector money can be a part of the solution, instead of always thinking this is government only,” Ryan said.

“But to suggest the size of a spending package in Washington will determine how much growth we get in the economy, I just reject the whole premise of that question,” he added.

Shuster also pointed to regulatory reform as an important component of any infrastructure plan, saying there are “hundreds” of regulations that should be rolled back to ensure that transportation projects get off the ground.

“Waters of the United States is the first one, and I think that’s one of those he can [undo] with the stroke of a pen,” Shuster said.

-- This story was updated at 3:00 p.m.