House GOP chairman introduces draft of infrastructure plan
Dems call for $1 trillion federal investment in infrastructure
House Democrats on Thursday called for $1 trillion in federal dollars for an infrastructure overhaul, a proposal that comes just days ahead of the announcement of President Trump's long-awaited infrastructure proposal.
The House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) unveiled the party's own infrastructure package at a press conference meant to counter the anticipated release of a Monday White House proposal.
"The federal government is a necessary partner in this effort to rebuild our country. It's not enough to punt this to the private sector, as the president wants," said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.).
"Rebuilding our country will require a serious smart investment of real federal resources to get this work done."
The blueprint pushes for a stronger federal investment in various infrastructure programs, including energy, airports, schools, water and roads. It also calls for the use of U.S.-made materials like iron and steel, in addition to green materials.
The $1 trillion direct federal investment in the Democrats' plan is a steep increase from the $200 billion of federal seed money the Trump administration is expected to kick in for a rebuilding initiative. Under the expected Trump plans, local and state governments, as well as private groups, will foot the rest of the bill.
But Democrats have long argued for a larger federal direct investment in infrastructure, while members of both parties have questioned revenue sources for an overhaul. And lawmakers from rural areas have worried that reliance on private funding would neglect rural communities, where toll roads are less likely to be profitable.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called the Trump proposal a "fake plan."
"Republicans lack a sense of history in terms of dealing with our infrastructure," he said, noting the federal government's historical role in rebuilding.
Trump recently touted an infrastructure package of "at least" $1.5 trillion during his State of the Union address, a figure that left lawmakers on both sides of the aisle wondering how that planning would be funded.
A leaked document purporting to reveal the administration's thinking suggests the plan will emphasize payments from state and local governments, in addition to private investment, to make up for the shortfall.
Democrats on Thursday morning poked fun at the fluctuating numbers coming from the Trump administration.
"The president promised infrastructure. Well here it is - a year later," said Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
"And it went from a trillion to a trillion-and-a-half in less than a week. Because I had been at the White House the week before, and it had been a trillion and suddenly because a trillion-and-a-half, but with no new money."
One similarity between the Democrats' plan and the expected administration proposal is an emphasis on expanding broadband access to rural areas. While Democrats say they will "close the rural-urban divide," the White House said in a recent fact sheet that a quarter of the federal seed money will go towards a pot to invest in rural regions.
Democrats, according to their plan, will "connect more communities" and advance rail technology. The proposal also includes a push for enacting Positive Train Control, a key safety feature that automatically decreases the speed of a train traveling over the limit.
The package says Democrats will work to maintain the solvency of the struggling Highway Trust Fund, which receives financing from the federal gas tax for road-building projects, and contribute a larger federal investment toward rebuilding roads and bridges.
The White House said earlier this week that it will release its plan Monday, which comes after multiple delays.