Transportation Secretary Chao Testifies on Administration Infrastructure Plan

On March 6, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to present the Trump Administration’s infrastructure plan that would leverage $200 billion in federal dollars to produce $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments over ten years. The Trump proposal would create a number of new infrastructure funding categories including an incentive grant program and rural infrastructure block grant program.
Much of the questioning of the Secretary focused on where the additional revenue would come from to support the federal share. In response Chao proclaimed that, “Everything is on the table.” She was also questioned by Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and others about reports that President Trump told Congressional leaders that he would support a 25 cents per gallon increase in the federal motor fuels tax, which she did not deny but would not elaborate. Chao, however, pointed out that the President’s proposal calls for state and local governments and private sector interests to play a larger role in paying for roads, bridges and other non-transportation infrastructure. She also made the case for new initiatives to make the environmental review process work more efficiently and reduce the time it takes from ten years to two.
Chairman Shuster said that any infrastructure package must be bipartisan and that he is working with Committee Ranking Democrat Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) in drafting legislation. He pointed out that, “Fixing the Highway Trust Fund for the future and modernizing the way we fund infrastructure in this country must be part of our solution.”
This was Secretary Chao’s second visit to Capitol Hill to present the administration’s plan. On March 1, she appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Among the statements made there was a concern that the very full congressional calendar might not allow time to fully address the proposal. However, while there were noted disagreements with some of the ideas in the president’s plan, there seemed to be general agreement on the need to address infrastructure needs.
For more information, contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org or (703) 837-5319.


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