Federal infrastructure funding plans on back burner

WASHINGTON – Prospects for a promised trillion-dollar federal infrastructure plan seem to be fading as the Trump administration grapples with other major issues such as health care and tax reform.

Congress has been focused on a health care reform plan, which was passed by the House but is being revamped in the Senate, and the Trump administration is still pushing a major tax overhaul proposal.

Meanwhile, infrastructure remained on the back burner.

“The timing of the process is still a little bit up in the air,” DJ Gribbin, special assistant to the president for infrastructure policy, told the Wall Street Journal.

Trump made infrastructure funding one of the cornerstones of his election campaign, promising to deliver a plan to invest $1 trillion to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges, airports, freight corridors and ports within his first 100 days in office.

That 100-day period ended on April 30.

Various infrastructure-funding methods have been discussed, including fuel taxes and public-private partnerships.

Republican congressional leaders have said they plan on taking up an infrastructure bill this summer, while Democrats already have proposed a $1 trillion plan.

Interest groups, including the American Society of Civil Engineers, have been calling for immediate action on the issue, with the society giving the nation’s infrastructure a near-failing grade earlier this year.

Some members of Congress are pushing a long-term funding stream for the Highway Trust Fund as part of any tax-reform plan. The trust fund is used to help states pay for infrastructure projects.

Although there is agreement by both political parties that infrastructure funding is important, methods of paying for it differ, with Democrats opposing private funding and Republicans against fuel-tax increases.

But Gribbin insisted in the Journal interview that fixing the country’s roads and bridges remains a priority. “Infrastructure is one of the most important, and sort of most popular things we’re doing right now.”

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