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Will Democrats Fall for Trump’s Fake Infrastructure Plan?

2:40 PM PST on January 11, 2018

Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

After more than a year of teasing, Trump administration officials say the White House infrastructure plan will drop later this month.

This is one area where Trump can't rely on GOP majorities to push through major legislation. An infrastructure bill will need 60 Senate votes to pass, but Democrats might decide to withhold their support instead of giving Trump a bipartisan legislative accomplishment heading into the midterms.

In terms of policy, the Trump team has signaled at every occasion that their infrastructure plan will be a disaster for cities and transit. His budget proposals have called for merciless cuts to transit funding (Congress didn't follow through on the worst of it), and the administration has been refusing to release grants for transit projects around the country, threatening their completion.

Delaware Senator Tom Carper, the ranking Dem on the infrastructure committee, is practically begging for a Trump infrastructure plan. Photo: a href="https://www.epw.senate.gov/public/">Senate EPW
Delaware Senator Tom Carper, the ranking Democrat on the infrastructure committee, is eager to see a Trump infrastructure plan. Photo: Senate EPW
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Nevertheless, this was the message from Delaware Senator Tom Carper, ranking member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, in a press release yesterday:

I am hopeful that we will finally see the long-promised infrastructure proposal from the Trump Administration sooner rather than later.

While there is no shortage of issues on which the president and I disagree, the kind of large scale trillion dollar infrastructure investment that then-candidate Trump talked about is something that has the potential to elicit bipartisan support here in Congress.

On the surface, this seems like a naive take on Trump's sloganeering about a "$1 trillion infrastructure plan." Carper might be saving a confrontation for later, but making entreaties to work out an infrastructure deal probably won't end well, given what we already know.

In December, Politico reported that Trump and the GOP only planned to spend $200 million in federal funds on infrastructure over ten years. Some of that would potentially come from cuts to other programs -- like healthcare and education. The other $800 would come from cities, states, and private financing.

The types of infrastructure deals the Trump administration is already trying to encourage don't bode well for a larger package. Under Trump, U.S. DOT has already been caught restructuring project funding packages to funnel more money to banks and extract more from taxpayers.

Democrats in the Senate have a lot of leverage in this process. But if party leaders like Carper don't even try to drive a hard bargain, their constituents will lose.

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