President Trump delivered a campaign-style speech June 7 in Cincinnati to again tout his $1 trillion infrastructure plan that remains under development.
“The promise of a safe, reliable and modern infrastructure hasn’t been kept, but we’re going to keep it,” Trump said. He spoke hours after Department of Transportation secretary Elaine Chao told a Senate panel a detailed proposal should be finalized before the end of September.
Trump called on Democrats and Republicans “to join together, if that is possible, in the great rebuilding of America. Countless American industries, businesses and jobs depend on rivers, runways, roads and rails that are in dire - and even desperate - condition,” he said.
He emphasized the need to upgrade inland waterways in rural areas, which he said will receive a significant boost from his $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
A White House statement released in conjunction with Trump’s speech outlined previously released details, including using $200 billion in direct federal funding to leverage $800 billion from private groups.
“President Trump will spur growth and investment in infrastructure by dramatically reducing permitting time for projects from 10 years to 2 years and slashing regulations to speed up the decision making process,” the White House statement said.
Trump spoke along the Ohio River, not far from the Brent Spence Bridge, where President Obama spoke in 2011 to promote infrastructure spending. During the presidential campaign Trump referenced the bridge as one the government would help replace. However, he did not reference the bridge during the June 7 speech.
Democrats on Capitol Hill were quick to criticize Trump’s plan, as did the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates.
“To be clear, when President Trump spoke today about ‘private dollars’ in infrastructure, specifically relating to surface transportation, he is talking about tolls. Tolls will not fill our infrastructure deficit because tolls rob everyday drivers to line the pockets of Wall Street and international investors. Tolls are the worst funding mechanism available and are a highly inefficient use of funds. Tolls should be removed from any discussion of responsibly fixing our country’s ailing roads and bridges,” the group said.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said after the speech it supports Trump’s infrastructure push.
“The Chamber and the business community look forward to engaging with the White House and with Congress to develop and implement a long-term plan that will bring our nation's infrastructure up to speed and spur economic growth,” said Ed Mortimer, the Chamber’s executive director for transportation infrastructure.