Congressional Democrats say they've reached an agreement with President Trump on a $2 trillion dollar infrastructure deal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met with the President Tuesday. The Democratic leaders urged President Trump to support a "big and bold" infrastructure package that goes beyond transportation.
"Originally we had started a little lower [but] even the President was eager to push it up to 2 trillion dollars and that is a very good thing," says Senator Chuck Schumer, the Minority Leader from New York. "Obviously [we talked about] the roads and the bridges and the highways, obviously water, but also a big emphasis on broadband, that every American home we believe needs broadband, an emphasis on the power grid so we could bring clean energy from one end of the country to the other."
However, they still disagree over how to pay for it. The U.S. in 2017 had an estimated $836 billion backlog of highway and bridge capital needs.
Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Sam Graves says linking infrastructure work to action on the highway trust fund could help.
"Personally I think it's got to be at $500 billion or less, but we have to figure out how to fund it," says Graves. "We also have to solve the Highway Trust Fund and the gas tax issue so they'll probably be tied in together."
The nation's top business groups and labor unions have said they would support increasing the federal fuel tax, currently at 18.3 cents a gallon since it was last raised in 1993.
Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, released a statement following the announcement Tuesday:
"Today’s meeting is clearly not the finish line on providing an infrastructure bill for the American people. However, one will never cross the finish line unless one first crosses the starting line. I am pleased that, in the midst of extreme partisanship and acrimony, both the President and Democratic congressional leaders were able to assemble around a table and discuss an important item on the “to do list” of the American people and emerge from the meeting in closer agreement than when entering the meeting. This should be a routine phenomenon, but unfortunately it is elusive in today’s political climate. We hope the bipartisanship on display during this initial meeting is not a fleeting moment but rather will start to build momentum toward a comprehensive infrastructure bill that will address the needs of both urban and rural America."
"It remains incumbent upon the Soy Transportation Coalition and the broader agricultural community to ensure that, as these important discussions continue, the needs of our nation’s roads and bridges, highways and interstates, inland waterways, rail infrastructure, and ports have a seat at the table. We look forward to continuing to promote an infrastructure that will be a facilitator of farmer profitability, not an obstacle to it."
Steenhoek says all sides agreed to meet in three weeks to solicit President Trump’s suggestions on funding sources.
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