Trump calls for infrastructure plan of 'at least' $1.5T

President TrumpDonald TrumpSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote One quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors MORE called on Congress to pass an infrastructure bill costing at least $1.5 trillion during his inaugural State of the Union address on Tuesday night, hoping to breathe some life into one of his long-stalled campaign promises.

Trump’s rebuilding plan, which is expected to be a core part of his 2018 agenda, will be divided into two major goals: rebuilding U.S. infrastructure and speeding up the permit approval process.

"I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve,” Trump said.

Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need.”


Trump’s pitch, however, lacked critical policy details, like how the White House plans to pay for the package or how exactly the money will be spent.

Still, the president used the stage as an opportunity to start selling both lawmakers and the public on the idea of a national rebuilding program, which Trump has been calling for since the 2016 campaign.

Trump initially promised to unveil a plan to rebuild U.S. roads, bridges, airports and other public works within his first 100 days in office, but the issue took a back seat to other GOP priorities such as taxes and health care last year. 

The administration has since missed a series of self-imposed deadlines to release more details about Trump’s infrastructure vision.

But more detailed legislative principles are expected to land on Capitol Hill in the next few weeks following Trump's address. The administration has been talking about a plan costing $1.7 trillion, though the private sector and local governments would be picking up the majority of the tab.

Trump’s plan would use $200 billion in federal funding to raise at least $1 trillion worth of overall infrastructure investment, largely by offering incentives to the private sector and local governments to back transportation projects.

“Every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit,” Trump said.

According to a leaked draft of the plan that surfaced last week, 50 percent of the federal funding in the proposal would go toward a so-called incentive program that rewards cities and states that raise their own revenue for infrastructure. It would also loosen a federal ban on tolling existing interstate highways and remove other “constraints” on public-private partnerships for transit systems.

Trump said Tuesday the proposal would also be paired with significant permit reform in an effort to reduce regulatory roadblocks and bring down the length of the construction approval process to “no more than two years, and perhaps even one.”

“America is a nation of builders,” Trump said. “We built the Empire State Building in just one year. Isn’t it a disgrace that it can now take ten years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?”

While Trump has repeatedly said the infrastructure plan could be done with bipartisan support, Trump’s proposal has so far drawn an icy reception from Democrats.

Democrats have blasted the forthcoming package as a corporate giveaway that is too reliant on the private sector and places too much of a financial burden on cash-strapped cities and states.

They also worry that the proposal will gut environmental regulations in order to speed up the construction approval process.

Even before the State of the Union, Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee were slamming the proposal as a “bait and switch.”

The immediate disapproval suggests the White House faces an uphill battle to sell any proposal to lawmakers, who are fresh off fights over immigration and tax reform.

“We can all agree that our infrastructure needs a major investment and upgrade, but indications of the president’s plan simply won’t cut it,” Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), the ranking member of the committee, said in a statement.

After the speech, Rep. Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioHillicon Valley: DOJ to review cyber challenges | Gaetz, House Republicans want to end funding for postal service surveillance | TikTok gets new CEO On The Trail: Census data kicks off the biggest redistricting fight in American history Push for infrastructure gas-tax hike loses steam MORE (D-Ore.) said he’s “given up” on receiving an infrastructure plan from the White House in the coming weeks. The ranking member of the House Transportation Committee said the White House “abruptly” canceled a briefing scheduled for Tuesday with lawmakers without providing a reason.

“I mean, we’ve been promised a plan at least seven times, with deadlines.” DeFazio told reporters after the president’s address. “They don’t have a plan. But they raised the price tag by fifty percent.”

Rep. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiAir Force aborts ICBM test before launch Biden offers traditional address in eerie setting Biden to meet with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure MORE (D-Calif.), another member of the Transportation Committee, said the administration’s proposal, as it stands now, “ought to be dead on the arrival.”

“It’s all happy talk. There’s no money. All the money disappeared with the tax cut,” Garamendi told The Hill after Trump’s speech.

“You can’t build infrastructure without money. There is no new money in this. It repurposes existing money. So how are you going to do it?” he added.

This story was updated at 11:47 p.m.