President Trump said Tuesday that he will ask lawmakers to approve legislation that spurs $1 trillion worth of infrastructure investment and is funded by a mix of direct federal investment and private financing.
Although Trump has long called for repairing U.S. roads, bridges and airports, the comments are the clearest sign to date of how he intends to tackle a hefty rebuilding plan. But Trump still left out details such as how exactly he wants to pay for the proposal and when he will unveil legislative text.
So far, the only clues had come from a white paper floated on the campaign trail that solely relies on federal tax credits for private investors, which had raised concern from rural Republicans and other critics.
“Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our beautiful land,” Trump said during a joint address to Congress. “To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital — creating millions of new jobs.”
Trump added that the legislative effort will be guided by a promise to buy American-made products and hire U.S. citizens.
The speech comes amid growing doubts about whether lawmakers will be able to tackle a major infrastructure bill during a packed legislative year.
Axios reported last week that the White House and Republican leaders are considering punting on a package until 2018 in order to give Congress more breathing room to address other GOP priorities.
There have also been questions about how big the measure's price tag will be because fiscal conservatives have been typically reluctant to back massive federal spending on transportation.
But, in a nod to those concerns, Trump pointed out Tuesday that it was “another Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, [who] initiated the last truly great national infrastructure program: the building of the interstate highway system,” he said. “The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding."
Trump's infrastructure comments were met with applause — and even a standing ovation — by some Republicans.