Ryan: Infrastructure plan will come in ‘five or six different bills’
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that Congress will tackle an infrastructure overhaul in multiple pieces of legislation this year, dealing a blow to President Trump’s push for a $1.5 trillion rebuilding package.
“The plan is to do this in about five or six different bills,” Ryan said during a question and answer session at a Home Depot center in Atlanta.
Congress will begin working on legislation in a week and a half and pass the bills into the summer, Ryan said.
The speaker pointed to two pieces of must-pass legislation: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization and the omnibus spending package lawmakers are currently negotiating ahead of a March 23 deadline. The current FAA reauthorization is up March 31, but Congress is likely to pass a temporary fix in the spending bill before a formal reauthorization this summer.
Ryan referred to the omnibus as a “down payment on the infrastructure plan.”
Ryan also referenced the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a waterways bill Congress regularly re-ups every two years.
Highways, roads, bridges and canals will be done “in different stages,” Ryan noted. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, known as the FAST Act, expires at the end of the 2020 fiscal year.
The comments come after Ryan on Wednesday night said an increase to the gas tax is off the table, removing what many lawmakers see as the most viable revenue stream for a rebuilding overhaul.
Ryan also mentioned components of the administration’s infrastructure blueprint, provided to Congress last month as a framework for future legislation. The speaker said lawmakers would push to streamline the permitting process and for the use of private funds for infrastructure projects.
“We want to streamline the approval process so we can get these modernization projects going through the system faster,” he said.
Trump unveiled his long-awaited infrastructure plan last month after promising to address rebuilding within the first 100 days of his presidency.
The administration’s proposal includes $200 billion of federal seed money with the goal of generating an overall package of $1.5 trillion through the use of public-private partnerships and funding from state and local governments.