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Posted on: February 7, 2019

In the News: Infrastucture Bill Faces Many Potholes in Months Ahread

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President Donald Trump pronounced himself eager to work with Congress on a plan to rebuild America's crumbling roads and bridges, but offered no specifics during his State of the Union speech on what kind of deal he would back.  The question now is whether lawmakers and the president are finally ready to move beyond complaining about the nation's infrastructure problem and actually do something about it.

History says no.

Lawmakers from both parties are expressing hope about reaching an agreement, but they key will be whether they and the president can figure out how to pay for it.  Trump's initial proposal made little progress in the last Congress as Republicans were content to rely on their tax cuts and the strong economy to make their case to voters in the midterm elections.  Democratic lawmakers, for their part, considered Trump's plan inadequate and unrealistic.

Now, high-powered interest groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are trying to jumpstart momentum on the issue, and congressional committees in both chambers are scheduling hearings.

Representative Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, said Trump's leadership will be critical because only he can win over enough Republicans to get a deal done.  He added that wherever the money for infrastructure is to come from, it will take Trump's "full and unqualified commitment to give Republicans enough cover to vote for it," Doggett said.

Trump struck a bipartisan tone during his State of the Union address with pleas for action on infrastructure, prescription drug pricing and ending the spread of HIV that seemed aimed at centrist voters.

For now, it looks like lawmakers will have to come up with many of the details.

"The president wants Congress to come together and craft a bipartisan infrastructure package that rebuilds crumbling infrastructure, invests in the projects and industries of tomorrow, and promotes permitting efficiency," said White House spokesman Judd Deere.

Source:  Kevin Freking, Associated Press (reprinted in The Eagle, 2/07/2019)

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