Democrats

Democrats pitch $1T infrastructure plan - will Trump get on board?

Chief political correspondent Carl Cameron reports from Washington

 

Senate Democrats, in a bid to seize on President Trump’s inaugural address call for repairing the nation’s infrastructure, have unveiled a $1 trillion plan they say would create 15 million jobs over the next 10 years – though they could face resistance from Republicans uneasy about endorsing a stimulus-style spending bill. 

The plan put out by Democrats proposes to spend: 

-$210 billion repairing roads and bridges

-$180 billion upgrading rail and bus systems 

-$110 billion modernizing the electrical grid 

-Billions more for schools, shipping waterways, airports and more 

Though former President Obama’s stimulus package and other infrastructure plans were derided by Republicans, Democrats behind the new proposal are hoping to appeal to Trump’s interest in putting Americans to work on vital construction projects.  

“He campaigned on a promise of bigger and better infrastructure,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday. “This plan is the way to make it happen.”  

Schumer met with Trump and said the president seemed “willing” to work on moving forward. 

“We call on the president to persuade his Republican colleagues in the House and Senate to drop their opposition to investing in infrastructure and get on board with this plan,” Schumer said. 

But the plan already is facing resistance from Capitol Hill Republicans. 

“I don’t think we ought to borrow a trillion dollars and plus up a bunch of federal accounts, incur a lot of additional debt, and don’t build a lot of projects to speak of,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday. “So I can tell you what I’m against – which is a replication of the Obama stimulus package in 2009.” 

Harry Zieve Cohen, a research associate at the Hudson Institute, the same center-right think tank where Trump’s nominee for Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao works, told Fox News that everyone will be forced to compromise. 

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of compromise where there is increased private spending,” Cohen told Fox News. “This is an opening salvo from the Democrats trying to test the president -- they know there are some differences on his views of infrastructure versus that of the Republican caucus in terms of how this should be funded.”  

According to Cohen, infrastructure can be funded one of two ways: through direct government spending, or by incentivizing private firms to construct or repair infrastructure with the help of a tax break or other benefit.  

“I’d imagine both of those things would appeal to Trump,” Cohen said.  

Republican Study Committee Chairman Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., told Fox News there needs to be a “limitation” on the proposal. 

“Infrastructure plans are great – they lead to jobs – we need to do something,” Walker told Fox News. “But we can’t throw out the kitchen sink just to be able to try to get into the spirit of bipartisanship.” 

But McConnell said Republicans are willing to consider proposals coming from the Trump administration, which would include, if confirmed, his wife Elaine Chao in the Transportation Department. 

“I hope it will be something credibly paid for,” McConnell said. “We have a $21 trillion debt, but I think we would all like to tackle infrastructure in a credible way and hopefully that’s what they’ll recommend.” 

Trump’s own plan is expected to offer tax credits to businesses that join in public-private partnerships to restore infrastructure. Throughout the campaign, Trump promised to both rebuild America’s infrastructure and reduce the national debt, but doing both simultaneously could prove difficult. 

“We have to pay attention to [the deficit and national debt],” Walker told Fox News. “If we are willing to sign off on something that even we consider astronomical numbers, there has to be strong evidence that this does not continue to add to the burden.” 

Fox News’ Carl Cameron contributed to this report. 

 

Brooke Singman is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.