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Dems Propose $1T Infrastructure Plan   01/24 06:17

   Senate Democrats say they plan to offer a proposal Tuesday to spend $1 
trillion on transportation and other infrastructure projects over 10 years in 
an attempt to engage President Donald Trump on an issue where they hope to find 
common ground.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Democrats say they plan to offer a proposal 
Tuesday to spend $1 trillion on transportation and other infrastructure 
projects over 10 years in an attempt to engage President Donald Trump on an 
issue where they hope to find common ground.

   Details of the plan provided to The Associated Press include $200 billion 
for a "vital infrastructure fund" to pay for projects of national significance. 
An example of the types of projects that could be eligible for financing from 
the fund is the Gateway Program to repair and replace aging rail lines and 
tunnels between New York and New Jersey, some of which are over 100 years old 
and were damaged in Hurricane Sandy. The project, which would double the number 
of trains per hour using the tunnels and help enable high-speed Amtrak service, 
is estimated to cost about $20 billion.

   Republican leaders, who have said previously that they're waiting for Trump 
to offer his own proposal, are unlikely to embrace the Democratic plan. It's 
not clear where Democrats would to get the money to pay for their proposal.

   Infrastructure was raised at a meeting Monday between Trump and lawmakers. 
"They thought that was an area maybe to find common ground, and then Sen 
McConnell made the important point it needs to be paid for because we've got 
$20 trillion in debt," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the No. 2 Senate GOP leader.

   Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said previously he 
doesn't want another infrastructure plan that is effectively an economic 
stimulus program like the one Congress passed in 2009 at former President 
Barack Obama's behest.

   Trump bemoaned the state of the nation's roads, bridges, airports and 
railways during the presidential campaign and promised to generate $1 trillion 
in infrastructure investment, putting people to work in the process. But Trump 
has offered few specifics. Administration officials have indicated they expect 
Trump to offer a detailed plan this spring.

   "Senate Democrats are walking the walk on repairing and rebuilding our 
nation's crumbling infrastructure," Senate Minority leader Charles Schumer, 
D-N.Y., said. "We ask President Trump to support this common sense, 
comprehensive approach."

   Democrats estimate their plan would create 15 million jobs.

   A proposal by two of Trump's financial advisers circulated just after the 
election calls for using $137 billion in tax credits to generate $1 trillion in 
private investment in infrastructure projects over 10 years. But private 
investors are typically interested only in projects that have a revenue stream 
to produce a profit like tolls.

   Tolling roads and bridges is often unpopular. A recent Washington Post poll 
found that 66 percent of the public opposes granting tax credits to investors 
who put their money into transportation projects in exchange for the right to 
toll.

   The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and 
transportation industry lobbying groups are campaigning for a hike in direct 
federal spending instead of tax credits. What is needed most, they say, is 
money to address the growing backlog of maintenance and repair projects, most 
of which are unsuitable for tolling.


(KA)

 
 
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