Infrastructure bill unlikely this year

Date: Monday, May 14, 2018
Source: American Shipper

 President Donald Trump and Congress are unlikely to produce any significant infrastructure investment legislation before the end of the year, according to a recent statement from the White House.
   If there’s one issue for which Congress has traditionally put aside partisan politics, it’s infrastructure. Few lawmakers, if any, have ever actively lobbied against the repair and revitalization of roads, bridges, ports and other transportation assets vital to the flow of commerce into, out of and throughout the United States. The problem, historically, has been in getting lawmakers to agree how to fund such projects.
   The industry long has complained that a lack funding has accelerated the deterioration of infrastructure assets and the lack of clarity provided by a long-term spending bill has made it more difficult to get specific projects off the ground.
   But for shippers and those freight transportation providers hoping legislation would take shape during the 2018 calendar year, the message from the Trump administration seems to be “don’t hold your breath.”
   White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a media briefing last week that she was unsure there will be any movement on such a bill this year.
   During the briefing, Sanders was asked whether a bill was coming by a reporter who also noted the $20 billion in funding for infrastructure that the administration was able to secure in the general appropriations bill and the FAA reauthorization that passed through the House a few weeks ago.
   Sanders further cited communications with Congress regarding priorities to consider in an infrastructure legislation package but admitted a full-fledged bill was unlikely to see the light of day this year.
   “We’re going to continue to look at ways to improve the nation’s infrastructure,” she said. “But in terms of a specific piece of legislation, I’m not aware that that will happen by the end of the year.”
   Trump made infrastructure a cornerstone of his campaign, often referring to a $1 trillion spending plan that would rely heavily on private investment to supplement state and federal spending, but many analysts questioned whether the private sector would be interested in investing in assets that generally don’t provide a direct return on that investment.
   The president in March asked Congress to come up with a 10-year, $1.5 trillion infrastructure investment plan that only uses $200 billion in federal funds, but questions remain as to where the remaining $1.3 trillion in necessary project funding will come from. Much of the spending burden has fallen to states and local communities in recent years, as federal dollars have been harder and harder to come by, but it is highly unlikely they would be capable of fully funding all of the various projects necessary to repair and rebuild the nations aging infrastructure.

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