Industry Associations React to President Trumps’ Newly Unveiled $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

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On Feb. 12, President Donald J. Trump finally unveiled his long-awaited $1.5 trillion plan that addresses the repair and rebuilding of the nation’s aging, and crumbling, infrastructure.

President Donald J. Trump

(Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

“Building a Stronger America: President Donald J. Trump’s American Infrastructure Initiative” outlines the president’s six principles to address the nation’s infrastructure woes.

· $200 billion in Federal funds to spur at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments with partners at the State, local, Tribal, and private level.

· New investments will be made in rural America, which has been left behind for too long.

· Decision making authority will be returned to State and local governments.

· Regulatory barriers that needlessly get in the way of infrastructure projects will be removed.

· Permitting for infrastructure projects will be streamlined and shortened.

· America’s workforce will be supported and strengthened.

See a complete breakdown of “Building a Stronger America: President Donald J. Trump’s American Infrastructure Initiative” by following this link to the fact sheet.

Or, if you prefer to read through the president’s entire 55-page Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America,” follow this link.

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“We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways all across our land,” the president said. “And we will do it with American heart, and American hands, and American grit.”

The news of the infrastructure plan spread quickly Feb. 12 and several construction industry associations were quick to offer commentary.

Editor’s Note: This blog post will be updated as we receive statements from other industry associations.

Updated Feb. 13 at 8:30 a.m.

DIPRA

DIPRA LogoThe Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association (DIPRA) reiterated the importance of funding water infrastructure.

“We applaud the continued focus on water infrastructure, as well as efforts to remove federal burdens on local communities that need to move quickly to repair and replace aging drinking and wastewater systems,” said Patrick J. Hogan, president of DIPRA. “The budget deal recently signed into law is a great down payment on the significant amount of government funding that should be made available for buried infrastructure projects. But while federal regulators should keep a careful eye on their investments, Congress and the White House should continue to avoid red tape and top-down mandates that will only slow down the rebuilding of our nation’s infrastructure.”

RELATED: DIPRA Urges President, Congress to Ensure Funding for Potable, Wastewater Systems

Updated at 5:20 p.m.

ASCE

“The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has been warning of the safety and economic implications of our deteriorating infrastructure for the past 20 years. The Infrastructure Report Card has yet to give an overall grade higher than a ‘D+.’ The Trump Administration’s plan is a solid first step in having a real conversation about solutions for the nation’s aging infrastructure and a path to address our infrastructure investment deficit,” said ASCE President Kristina Swallow, PE.

“Now it’s time for Congress to develop a bill that can pass with bipartisan support. If we are going to work on infrastructure, we should do this right and seize the opportunity to modernize our infrastructure and put us on a path for increased economic prosperity. This bill should increase federal investment including a long-term, sustainable fix to the Highway Trust Fund. Congress should not squander this opportunity for the American people, who are currently losing $3,400 a year in disposable income because of our outdated and inadequate infrastructure.”

NACWA

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) is pleased that drinking water and clean water systems were specifically mentioned in the White House’s infrastructure proposal released earlier today. President Trump’s commitment of $1.5 trillion and reaffirmation of $200 billion in federal dollars, in addition to working with local governments, is a necessary first step to fixing our nation’s critically underfunded water infrastructure.

NACWA is encouraged to highlight and support the following details from the White House’s infrastructure proposal:

  • Drinking water, wastewater and stormwater facilities are specifically mentioned in eligibility categories of different programs within the bill
  • $100 billion in Incentives Program funding to be split among Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation (DOT), and United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for infrastructure projects, including “drinking water facilities, wastewater facilities, [and]stormwater facilities”
  • $50 billion for a Rural Infrastructure Program including for water, wastewater and stormwater projects
  • $20 billion for a Transformative Projects Program that includes the clean water sector
  • A section that NACWA needs to study more carefully with its water sector partners that would dramatically expand eligibilities beyond the water/wastewater sector for WIFIA
  • A section on Workforce Development aimed at ensuring “our country has enough skilled workers to perform not only existing work but also fill the new jobs created by the bill”
  • A provision expanding National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit terms from 5 to 15 years with automatic renewals “if the water quality needs do not require more stringent limits.”

“While we appreciate the Administration’s focus on water, NACWA is concerned that the White House’s proposal may be overly ambitious in terms of how much private investment and other non-federal revenue can be leveraged, particularly for water-specific projects,” said NACWA CEO Adam Krantz. “For decades, communities across the country have struggled to provide necessary funding to support our aging water infrastructure, much of which is over a century old. Municipalities now shoulder 95 percent of the financial burden to build, operate, maintain and repair these vital clean and safe water systems. We need a higher level of direct federal investment than what is contemplated here, to ensure there is a meaningful partnership between the federal and local levels.”

NACWA is committed to advocating for greater federal funding so communities have the financial support they need to provide clean water to all. As a comprehensive infrastructure bill comes together, NACWA is dedicated to working with our nation’s leaders to support a fiscally balanced infrastructure plan, one that will prioritize this country’s critical water needs.

Updated at 2:40 p.m.

ABC

The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) commends the infrastructure plan’s regulatory streamlining, workforce development expansion goals.

“ABC applauds the president for sending Congress a plan to rebuild America’s infrastructure. It is now time for lawmakers to develop legislation and policy to efficiently modernize America’s infrastructure and drive economic growth and prosperity for all Americans,” said Michael D. Bellaman, ABC president and CEO, in a press release.

“ABC is pleased that the president’s plan mirrors many of the key principles ABC believes will deliver the most value to taxpayers. For example, addressing regulatory burdens, such as streamlining the federal infrastructure permitting process, will reduce costs and increase the speed of project approval and completion. And expanding efforts to train the next generation of skilled workers will give more Americans the chance to take advantage of the jobs created by these infrastructure projects and help reduce the construction industry’s workforce shortage.

“We look forward to working with the White House and Congress as the infrastructure plan moves through the legislative process.”

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AEM LogoAEM

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers referred to Trump’s plan as a “good starting point.”

“Equipment manufacturers welcome the introduction of President Trump’s infrastructure proposal today. It should serve as an important starting point for serious debate in Congress, given that an overwhelming majority of Americans wants for Washington to act on infrastructure this year,” said Dennis Slater, AEM president, in a press release.

RELATED: AEM Poll: 81% Want Congress to Pass Infrastructure Bill in 2018

“The White House plan includes a number of important elements. Equipment manufacturers applaud the ‘One Agency, One Decision’ initiative to reduce permitting time on projects to 24 months, as well as their request to create designated funds to support rural infrastructure development and transformative infrastructure projects. The industry is also encouraged by the inclusion of a proposal to help train our manufacturing and construction workforce in charge of building America’s infrastructure.”

Slater continues, “However, the Trump administration’s proposal does not solve our nation’s underlying infrastructure issues, including the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and other programs to support our utility, water and aviation infrastructure. We hope that Congress will take up and build upon the Trump administration’s infrastructure proposal on a bipartisan basis to help America reclaim its infrastructure advantage over our global competitors.”

Read the AEM and equipment manufacturers’ policy recommendations to reclaiming the “U.S. Infrastructure Advantage” here.

AGC of America LogoAGC of America

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC of America) adds that the president’s “should serve as impetus for legislation to improve aging and over-burdened public works.”

“The President has outlined a needed and thought-provoking proposal to rebuild and improve the nation’s aging and over-burdened public infrastructure. The details of this proposal are important and many, including this association, will seek changes to further improve upon the President’s concept. Yet the most significant aspect of today’s release is that it signals the start of what should be a timely, bipartisan and bicameral process to identify the best ways to fund and finance desperately needed improvements to our public infrastructure,” said AGC of America CEO Stephen E. Sandherr, via press release.

“This process should build on the many positive aspects of the President’s infrastructure proposal. These include increasing direct federal funding for public works by at least $200 billion over the next ten years; making improvements to the federal permitting process that maintain strong environmental protections while significantly accelerating project reviews; and finding innovative new ways to use federal funds to leverage additional state, local and private-sector funding for infrastructure.”

Sandherr continues, “At the same time, as the President’s own proposal makes clear, Congress must identify ways to address chronic funding shortfalls affecting the federal Highway Trust Fund that have put needed highway, bridge and transit improvements at risk too many times during the past decade. And Congress must also identify effective and long-term ways to fund other infrastructure improvements that are just as vital to our continued economic success as is the surface transportation program.

“Moving forward, this association will work vigorously to ensure Congress passes a significant, new, long-term infrastructure funding package as quickly as possible. Our goal will be to make sure every member of Congress appreciates that our economy will not be able to grow if we continue to allow our infrastructure to deteriorate.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued the following statement on the release of the Trump administration’s infrastructure plan:

“For years, plenty of people have been willing to talk about modernizing our nation’s infrastructure, but few have been willing to take action. We applaud the Trump administration for laying out its vision for moving ahead on this critical issue.

“A few weeks ago, we turned up the volume on the infrastructure conversation by offering up a few ideas of our own, and it’s encouraging to see that this administration shares our commitment to tackling this challenge in a meaningful way – and soon. This will be no small undertaking. America’s infrastructure needs are significant and there’s a lot of work ahead, but now is the time to get to it.

“We look forward to working with the administration, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, and stakeholders across industries and communities to rebuild America’s infrastructure to support a modern, growing economy.”

The U.S. Chamber has outlined a four-point plan for infrastructure modernization and investment, which includes:

·  Increasing the federal fuel user fee by 25 cents

· Implementing a multi-faceted approach for leveraging more public and private resources

· Streamlining the permitting process at the federal, state, and local level

· Expanding the American workforce through work-based learning and immigration reform

More details on the U.S. Chamber’s infrastructure plan are available here.

 

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